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Hardcover Ego Check: Why Executive Hubris Is Wrecking Companies and Careers and How to Avoid the Trap Book

ISBN: 1419535358

ISBN13: 9781419535352

Ego Check: Why Executive Hubris Is Wrecking Companies and Careers and How to Avoid the Trap

No one executive is immune from that difficult-to-distinguish line that divides the self-confidence required of a successful CEO from the hubris seen at the root of so many corporate scandals today.? We can count Warren Buffett, Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, and Jack Welch among the business leaders who have been infected with hubris at various stages of their careers and seen their lives and companies suffer as a result.? Every executive is vulnerable...


Format: Hardcover

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Carefully documented study of hubris gone wrong

Mathew Hayward's unusual book draws upon mythology to establish a major business premise and then proves it statistically. The premise is that hubris (CEO arrogance) is usually the source of illogical corporate mistakes, such as overpayment for acquisitions. The author draws heavily upon his research and other studies about "behavioral decision theory" to back up the concept that great pride often brings on a great fall. This profundity is basic to the philosophy of Greek tragedy, Dante, Shakespeare and Milton. The author used this concept to analyze more than 100 corporate mergers. He found that CEOs were usually the decision makers behind substantial overpayments for acquisitions. He concludes that egomania and narcissism, but not courage and conviction, must be "checked at the door." getAbstract recommends this interesting, thoughtful book.

A Must Read for CEOs

I have written often on the topics of executive ego, pride, arrogance, etc., and found Ego Check to be a much needed work. Hayward does a great job of shining the light on what many know to be true, but few will actually publicly address. In my book Leadership Matters...The CEO Survival Manual: WHAT IT TAKES TO REACH THE C-SUITE AND STAY THERE I discuss many of these topics in great detail as I feel hubris is a key component in determining one's success in the business world. I would highly recommend Ego Check to anyone aspiring to achieve sustainable success in the corporate world.

Ego Check and Level 5 Leadership

I took a class with professor Hayward at CU, he is a very good instructor and I remember he was researching the topic of confidence at the time. This book reminded me of Good to Great's level 5 leadership, were Jim Collins also examines the CEOs of the book's examples of great companies. Good to Great gives a great overview on the subject of the executive ego, however Ego Check gets more into detail on this managerial psychology phenomenon that needs to be examined in depth by it self.

A Review of Ego Check

The book Ego Check, by Mathew Hayward, seems like it was written exactly for me. It's about the tendency towards overconfidence in striving individuals. The four major hallmarks of same are: excessive pride and boastfulness; failure to listen to foils who tell you when you're wrong; refusal to get feedback about the outcome of your activities; and not planning for problems, consequences, and corrective measures in advance. The author gives case studies that show how these four faults led to disaster in the case of mountain climber Rob Hall, business executives Jean Messiers, Meg Whitman, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Dean Kamen, Merck in the Vioxx disaster, NASA in the Challenger and Columbia disasters, and The National Kidney program. The only problem with the book is that it relies mainly anecdotal methodology to prove its points. It includes numerous cases where pride was very successful, such as Apple and Dell, where the same executive was guilty of hubris and of perfectly rational overconfidence. It espouses people like Jack Welch and Warren Buffet as role models for how not to let hubris get the better of their organization. But anyone who seriously studies these executives' activities might conclude, as I do, that these are sanctimonious scoundrels who are masterful at retrofitting their personae into a form that the media will love and whose judgment is superior to the free market. As I read the book, I found myself thinking about my hobby, electric circuits. So many of them go into short circuits and uncontrollable output because the output is tied to the input in a positive feedback loop rather than a negative one that dampens the volatility and controls the output. Anyone who plays with op amps or amplifier circuits will know exactly how important is the dampening influence of monitoring the output and then controlling it when it gets out of a range. A bit of modeling with economic, electrical, or game theoretic concepts like this would have helped to put many of the points in a more systematic form for me and would have led to many more testable hypotheses. And yet, Hayward is a Columbia PhD who collaborated on Harvard works, and professor of psychology at Colorado University, who has interviewed many of the actors in the case studies that he writes about. I find him particularly insightful. And I agree with his point that hubris is the key fault that leads to great disaster in striving individuals. To his credit, Hayward realized that the mantra espoused by Collins in Good to Great, i.e., that the successful executive should be meek and humble and prudent at all times, is retrospective mumbo jumbo not suitable for the risks and leadership role successful executives must take in today's dynamic and uncertain world. The problem is how to differentiate the overconfidence that has a positive expectation, from the ones that will lead to disaster.

Great reading for everyone

I took this book with me on vacation to Mexico, mostly because I figured I might get tired of the award-winning sci-fi book I brought. What I didn't realize was that the moment I opened Ego Check I would be hooked by the author's incisive writing and great case stories about many of the world's most celebrated CEOs. As I read about these CEOs and their successes as they gained confidence in their abilities, it was hard not to feel their pain as they fell from grace through their following over-confidence. As I was reading, I felt that even though I have little or no power myself, I could learn much from this book as the author explained how to apply his principles to everyday situations. I ended up reading this book by the pool (I have the pictures to prove it -- my wife was not happy ;) and finished it in two days in between scuba diving). Conclusion: Definitely a great read for anyone in a position of authority, or anyone working for someone in a position of authority (that should cover about 95% of the population over the age of 18). Highly recommended!
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