For the whole of my career I have worked in radio and media. If you stop someone on the street, or take a quick stroll through social media anytime soon, you will find that most (normal) people seem to think the world of media is full of egotistical people, clamouring for attention and constant congratulations.
The truth is that you actually need to have some ego to make it work. To perform and give something of yourself in your performance you have to have a little bit of ego and pride, but keeping it in check is the important difference. Once ego gets in the driving seat, it tends to destroy talent. Its true that there are indeed some egotistical people who just want the glory and the limelight in the world of media and probably more than in many other industries and areas of work. I doubt there is many building sites with bricklayers just searching for praise, comment and a slap on the back for a new bit of wall like some people might do following their on air shift. Just because there are more egotistical people in media, doesn’t make everyone the same. Its also not limited to those higher profile on air roles.
Managers can be egotistical too and that isn’t just limited to the media world in any way. How many times have you heard of a manager taking credit for someone else’s work, or overblowing their own involvement in something, or perhaps just ensuring that structurally they build a team where everyone looks up to them- a structural egotist.
Last week I guested on a podcast for the Nottingham Business School- part of Nottingham Trent University. Visiting Honorary Professor Mike Sassi was very generous in asking me to take part in the Business Leaders Podcast and I had a very enjoyable chat which you can listen to “wherever you get your podcasts”. In that episode I talked about something which is not revolutionary in any way but flies in the face of egotistical management, “Hire people who are better than you!”. I’ve always worked on the principle that managers should hire great people and then spend their time removing the crap that gets in their way, allowing them to realise their true potential. It is not an earth shattering proposition, but I keep coming across people’s experiences which don’t seem to match up. Managers who hire people that know what they are doing, are experts in their field, and then spend time applying the brakes, ring-fencing their ideas and place them in a structure where they have to continually have to get approval for basic things from the hiring manager. Micro-managing is a really egotistical thing to do.
Maintaining some control, some brand direction and hands on is all fine- in fact its really good and helps maintain momentum and focus. Share the vision, explain the concept and get buy-in from your team, then give them room to create and do their job without the constant ‘parental supervision’. Remember that you don’t make the car go faster by adding speed limits to the track.
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