Corporate Ego is a Costly Liability

Organizations are now giving serious attention to an unnecessary expense that is hurting their bottom line. Fifty-three percent of businesspeople estimate that ego costs their company 6% to 15% of annual revenue; 21 percent say the cost ranges from 16% to 20%. If we work the math, using the lowest estimated figure of six percent, the annual cost of ego would impact the revenue of an average Fortune 500 company by $1.1 billion– as estimated by the people working to produce that revenue.

The following is the introductory chapter to Dr. Sandy Gluckman’s recently published book, Who’s in the Driver’s Seat – Using Spirit to Lead Successfully. Sandy cuts through all the myths about leadership and reveals the real meaning and fundamental basis of leadership. The book is being purchased in bulk by organizations who are making it mandatory reading for their leaders.

How can we switch them on?
A prominent leader was once asked how many people worked on his team. “About half of them,” he promptly replied. Was he just being funny or had he read the latest research? According to the Gallup organization, more than half of today’s employees act in ways that create positive customer experiences and business success for their organizations! That leaves about 22 million switched-off employees, costing the American economy as much as $350 billion a year. This challenging reality is causing leaders at all levels to ask themselves:

How do we build a switched-on organization?
How can we connect with our teams so they energetically embrace the organization’s goals as their goals?
How can we spark a passion for accountability and superior performance in every member of the team?
‘Who’s in the Driver’s Seat’ provides a roadmap to switching on employees to achieve superior performance…and superior, sustainable results. When employees feel switched on, they will enhance their organization’s success in numerous and measurable ways. They “get” the vision and make a commitment to quality and growth. They feel good about the future, love the work they do, produce more, are better communicators, enjoy challenges and switch customers on. Switched-on employees are accountable for their role in making the customers happy and become valuable assets to your organization.
Since 70 percent of all buying decisions are based on a positive human interaction, switched-on employees play a critical role in building and sustaining a loyal customer base.
Switched-off employees, on the other hand, create switched-off customers. Employees who feel emotionally switched-off cannot be accountable. Their determination to succeed and desire to engage is also switched off. They feel tired and lethargic. The little energy they do have goes into finding ways to cope. Their vision is survival. They don’t optimize their intelligence and their talents. Instead they go through the motions, feeling disconnected from their colleagues and organization’s goals.
So what gives switched-on teams the edge? What makes them capable of superior performance? What do they have that switched-off employees don’t have? They have spirit. When they work with spirit, they take their performance to the next level.
Let’s use a familiar analogy: Think of the great spirit found in a winning sports team. The players are focused, forceful, determined, courageous, skilled, gutsy, confident, and yet, humble. They envision themselves as winners, have supreme belief in their own talent and the talent of the other team members and are driven to achieve a shared dream. They cheer each other on every step of the way. These players are totally switched on and play as one. Their spirited selves are in the driver’s seat.
When we work or play with spirit in the driver’s seat, we are filled with positive emotions. We are optimistic and enthusiastic. We feel switched on and energized!

It’s different with losing terms. Unable to pull together, these team members play with ego, not with spirit. The members of losing teams are self-serving, pulling in different directions. Each is focused on his or her own personal agenda. Their egos create petty distractions and negative emotions, which get in the way of winning. They are switched off from their powerful, spirited selves. Losing teams have their egos in the driver’s seat. No matter how gifted these players may be, they don’t have the “mojo” that comes from spirit.

Switched-on teams are spirited teams, and spirited teams have special abilities that produce extraordinary performance resulting in spirited customers. Spirited customers become fans of your organization and spend more money with you. They also love to tell others about your products and services.

Just as a spirited team wins games and fans, so a spirited work force creates loyal customers and boosts sales.
More than ever before, leaders know that the ratio between switched-on and switched-off employees is a key indicator of company performance. Knowing how to switch others on is no longer an option. It’s a critical leadership competence and ability that will set your organization apart from your competition.
So how do leaders switch their teams on?
Surprisingly, it’s a simple and common skill, but one of the most underused in the leadership toolbox. Connect with employees and others in a way that creates positive emotions. In fact, a study by Gallup found the most productive workgroups had at least 3-to-1 ratio of positive to negative interactions. Anything less than 3-to-1, and the group’s productivity decreased significantly. So what does this tell us? A team with 3-to-1 positive to negative interactions, or better yet, a 5-to-1 or 10-to-1 ratio is clearly switched on.

Why is positive emotion the key to switching others on?

If we deconstruct the word, ‘emotion,’ we find that emotions create movement, emotions make things happen. Here’s how it works: Positive feelings convert into positive energy. Positive energy is spirit. Spirited employees think and act in in-spirit-ed (inspired) ways. To use the words of the famous football coach, Vince Lombardi, spirited teams have “the will to win and the will to excel.”

So why do so many leaders lack this spirit and switch off their employees? The answer is ego.
Ego is the enemy of spirit. When ego is in the driver’s seat, spirit becomes a passenger. Ego-driven leaders create negative feelings, which switch off others. When we are switched off, we are dis-spirited. Dis-spirited people are incapable of delivering positive results.

There are millions of employees who have been switched off by leaders who drive with their egos in the driver’s seat. Most of these employees have great potential, but without spirit, they cannot convert their potential into positive performance. No matter how educated and experienced we are, as leaders, if our ego is in the driver’s seat, we are switching others off and we have given up the right to expect superior results from those we lead.

In every single interaction we have a choice:
We can choose to respond with

The Ego Self or The Spirited Self

Just as every coin has two sides and only one side can be up at any one time, each of us has two sides. One side of our being is the spirited self – courageous, potent and real. The other side is the ego self – a non-authentic, self-protective public image. Only one of these two sides can be in the driver’s seat at any one time.

When our spirited self is in the driver’s seat, we connect with others and create positive emotions – like optimism, exhilaration, enthusiasm and determination. However, when our ego is in the driver’s seat, we will do and say things that cause others to feel cynical, skeptical and discouraged. The ego makes employees feel angry, sad or afraid. To cope with these negative emotions that the ego-driven leaders triggers in them, employees shut down and then switch off.

Most people are familiar with IQ and EQ. IQ is how the logical mind thinks. EQ is how the emotional mind thinks. Exciting new research recently discovered the brain possesses a third intelligence called SQ. SQ is how the spirited mind thinks and is the basis of in-spirit-ed (inspired) thinking.

The moment we become aware the ego is driving us and we consciously shift our ego into the passenger seat, we automatically activate spirit. Now, our in-spirit-ed intelligence SQ – is engaged and we find ourselves capable of producing extraordinary results.

Ego sees the world as limited, narrow, polarized and threatening. SQ converts our limited, ego interpretation of events and information into a 360-degree view, revealing possibilities that ego with IQ and EQ cannot compute. SQ is free of black-and-white either/or right-or-wrong thinking. These are boundaries imposed by ego.

With spirit in the driver’s seat, we think beyond these boundaries. Now we have the mental and emotional stamina to put our challenges into a broader perspective and see what new opportunities this brings to light. Then we have the courage to change the rules, transform the situation and create an environment that encourages and supports progress.

This remarkable intelligence is available to everyone, regardless of education or experience. But we can only access our SQ when our spirited self is in the driver’s seat and our ego is in the passenger seat.

Spirited leaders make the most of all three intelligences. They gather the facts and figures with IQ, apply their EQ to manage the emotional issues and use SQ to inspire spirit in others. SQ also facilitates inspired strategic and tactical decisions, brings about inspired conversations and rives inspired action and accountability.

The cost of ego shows up every moment of every day in every office, every meeting room, around every boardroom table, at the water cooler – any place where people gather. Ego costs can be measured in wasted time, underutilized talent, loss of information, poor decisions, lost opportunities and in the cost of medications for physical and emotional distress.

A 20-year study of more than 400 decisions made by top managers revealed50 percent of all business decisions failed.

One-third of these failed because of ego. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins writes: “In over two-thirds of comparison cases (average/good companies), we noted the presence of gargantuan personal ego that contributed to the demise or continued mediocrity of the company.”

In this book, we’ll explore what happens to organizations and teams when leaders have their ego or their spirit in the driver’s seat. We’ll also show how ego and spirit have the power to switch employees on or off. Every leader is responsible for understanding how spirit and ego impacts others and, in turn, directly impacts their organization’s performance.

Who’s in the Driver’s Seat offers practical actions to create and hone Spirited Leadership. With spirit in the driver’s seat and ego in the passenger seat, spirited leaders can create switched-on work force, one that enthusiastically takes responsibility for delivering remarkable performance.

Get ready to discover “Who’s in Your Driver’s Seat!”


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