Big-Ego Behaviors in Leadership

I called Ken Kragen to confirm a quote. Ken managed superstars like Kenny Rogers, Lionel Richie, Trisha Yearwood, Travis Tritt, Olivia Newton John, The Bee Gees, and more.

He was one of the founding organizers of We are the World that brought together more than 40 artists.

It turns out that Ken didn’t say, “Superstars are simply those who receive the most help.” He didn’t even believe the statement was true.

He said superstars have big egos, a deep need to please, and an ‘it’ factor. It’s not simply a matter of receiving the most help.

Big realization:

I was disappointed Ken didn’t believe the quote. I decided…

If you want to be a leader, forget about being a superstar.

My mind went to Jack Welch, a modern ‘superstar-leader’. Jack might have a big ego, deep need to please, and the ‘it’ factor, but he’s the opposite of a superstar in one important way.

Jack believes leadership is all about others, while superstars believe it’s all about themselves.

Jack said, “The idea that Jack Welch is the hero of creating all this value is silly…. Building a team is your strongest suit. … It’s about growing your people. You grow from the reflected glory of your people.”

Big-ego leaders:

#1. Are generous with criticism and stingy with praise.

Big egos need praise but don’t need to give it.

Superstar-leaders walk around pointing out what’s wrong. It makes them feel powerful.

Do your team a favor. If you love pointing out what’s wrong, stop talking.

#2. Reject the ideas of others.

You can’t lead successfully if everyone has to think like you.

I’ve seen many leaders get excited about developing people until people start thinking for themselves.

The need to be right – coupled with a need to control – motivates leaders to sabotage, nitpick, and reject other people’s ideas.

What big-ego behaviors do you see in leadership?

Can small-ego people be leaders?