I’m not sure how to set light to one – but I would torch the Ego. It’s both personal and political. I know we all need a bit of Ego – it gets us out of bed and helps sustain us. I don’t remember enough of undergrad psychology to know now where it fits with the Id and the Superego – I just know I can’t stand having to deal with people when it’s all about them. You know the type.
People who never listen. People who never ask. People for whom the whole world seems to exist just for them. I recoil from these people, who never shut up and suck in all the oxygen. Me, me, me! Really?
“Leaders might always need a touch more ego than the rest of us – but tomorrow’s leaders know it’s not about them, but all about us.”
The problem of course is that people with Egos do well and dominate our world – economically, socially and politically. Whatever it was in their childhood that made them so insecure and so needy of others, whoever bullied them in the playground – we all play the price as they rise to the top of corporations and organisations to reap their sad revenge.
But maybe we don’t have to burn either the Egos or the bodies containing them. The world is changing fast and the Egos may not thrive as they once did. Driven by technology we are shifting from a world of hierarchies to a world of the horizontal. In a networked society – driven by social media and the ability to know anything anywhere and connect to anyone anywhere – the old elites and the egos that sustained are being undermined. In a peer-to-peer world the key to success is not to drone on, impose or bully, but to listen, relate and practice empathy. On the emerging flat structures you have to behave in a more egalitarian and democratic fashion.
Leaders might always need a touch more ego than the rest of us – but tomorrow’s leaders know it’s not about them, but all about us. They know their job isn’t to dictate but to enable dialogue – not to impose policy answers but to build platforms to co-create the future. The leader becomes a ladder.
So more than anything, we want and need a bonfire of the vanities.