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Paula Marshall's Blog

The musings of a female CEO, trying to change the way business is done.

Have a problem with competing egos?

To know how to eliminate the Corporate Ego, we must understand what Ego is, both personally and within a corporate culture. According to Freud, the Ego is the part of our brain that is constructed from external feedback. What the world tells us about ourselves, we internalize and this information thus becomes part of who we are–for good or for ill.

In more modern terms, the ego is our pride. Our pride can grow or be diminished by feedback from others, especially those close to us such as our spouses and bosses. The ego is the most fragile part of our personalities because it can be so easily damaged by hearing negative things about ourselves, whether these things are true or not. When the ego rules our actions, things can get out of control very quickly. The ego is fueled and reassured by material goods; salaries, cars and houses are examples.

In the sense of a corporation, a collective ego can exist within a corporation and its members. The ego becomes a part of the corporate culture and this can be very dangerous to the employees and the bottom line. When the ego seeps into corporate culture, people in all parts of the structure begin to fear honest feedback. Honest feedback is the ego’s enemy, because it can be damaging to how we see ourselves. The ego only likes positive, over-inflated feedback, so that it can continue in its original direction–towards acquiring more stuff.

The purest cure for eliminating Corporate Ego is honesty and listening. But the key is, everyone in the structure, no matter their position must be allowed to contribute their honest opinion of what the organization, and its members, could improve on. In contrast, everyone must be listened to in the organization. When suggestions are made, they must be taken seriously no matter who makes them. If you feel your business or the company you work for may be Ego-Infused, the best way to eliminate it is to institute a system for giving and receiving honest feedback.

Sometimes this means hiring a Human Relations specialist, or counselor for your organization. There must be some system of support to build you, your managers, and employees back up after you are all are knocked down and humbled by the first round of feedback. To deflate the ego of a corporation can be scary, and without support people may lose faith in their ability to do a good job.  The goal is to have people believe that they can do their jobs well, but for them to be open to receive feedback and new learning about how to do their jobs better. Ego clouds one’s ability to learn and improve. Eliminating Corporate Ego is one of the most important steps to rebuilding American businesses.

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