Ego in Business
A Conversation Between Kimon Fountoukidis and Richard Lucas
In this episode, Richard and Kimon interview each other about the role of ego in business. The common perception is that entrepreneurs, typically men, have large egos, constantly seeking attention and dominating conversations. Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, serves as a classic example. While some level of ego is indeed necessary, effective leaders also understand when to control their egos and step back from the spotlight.
A leader with an inflated ego who believes that nobody else's opinions matter can create a dangerous environment. By not giving others a chance to contribute, such an egotistical CEO (who may not possess the brilliance of Steve Jobs) can harm the very business they are trying to build. As Kimon puts it, "the real entrepreneur is the one that’s super talented at getting way smarter people than themselves."
An entrepreneur with a toxic ego is primarily focused on being right. They fail to ask the most important question: "What is best for the company?" It shouldn't matter whether the best idea comes from the leader or the employees; what matters is the end result.
In addition to discussing the leader's ego, Kimon and Richard delve into managing the egos of others within the business. Employees often worry about their titles and their place within the organizational structure. Understanding and being sensitive to people's egos, particularly considering the diversity of personalities, is crucial. One effective approach is offering personality tests to both employees and leaders, enabling better understanding of how to interact with one another.
Kimon and Richard also touch upon the egos of clients and how big egos can be advantageous. Praising and congratulating clients with large egos can encourage repeat business.
In essence, ego is necessary but must be kept in check within the business context. There is a positive aspect that fosters confidence and perseverance and a toxic aspect that restricts growth by suppressing the potential of exceptional employees.