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Al Shanker’s cure for runaway ego

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Most executives don’t know how to subjugate their egos to a higher cause, says leadership guru Don Schmincke.

The ancients recognized that only by killing their righteousness would leaders be able to curb the territoriality, sucking up and finger-pointing that slow down organizations, Schmincke tells his MBA students.

In fact, he adds, the samurai didn’t have a word for “ego.” They called it “the evil spirit of the executive.”

Solution: Don’t take yourself so dang seriously.

Example: When the late trade union leader Al Shanker turned 60, his public affairs people decided to“roast” him with a commemorative video that used a series of visual and verbal gags to poke fun at his life.

Jamie Horowitz, who worked on the video, recalls that his boss feared that Shanker would fire them for their irreverence. But because Shanker’s sense of mission overrode his ego, he came away from the screening a happy man.“

All along, I’ve been trying to teach you one lesson, but I didn’t think you got it,” Shanker told his roasters. “If you act collectively, you can beat upon the boss and get away with it.”

— Adapted from Taking Charge: Lessons in Leadership, Amanda Maples, editor, Insight Publishing and Saga Worldwide.

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