Wednesday, August 23, 2006

How many egos does it take to start a stampede?

Ego. Who knew there could be so much of it? My boss has chosen to leave the company. Respectfully I think this is both good for him and for us. He never could really drive the department in the way that it needed (and needs) to be in order to give the company the support it requires to continue its aggressive growth plan. Of course, the result of one leaving means another is to take its place.

My new boss comes from an environment where I suspect when he asked for people to jump - they tended to do just that. He has mentioned some of the organizations of his past, and I can quite imagine that they looked upon him as a miracle worker. And rightfully so. His delivery might be a little off the mark, but the content of his delivery is smack bang - on the money. Being progressive in thought is something that new start-ups think they are but generally can't afford to do, and older institutions know they are not and couldn't be bothered to really sort out.

The interesting thing that this fresh blood has brought in to the business is another ego. An ego that might be somewhat larger than many of those I work with. Worse yet - larger than my own. At the minute, this makes for an extremely tense working environment. Everyone that is in possession of a smidgen of seniority are stamping their hooves and neighing as much as possible. The 'egotites' are competing for the top spot. The one to be reckoned with.

Sure, I am one of them - an 'egotite'. Interestingly, I don't feel as compelled to 'show-off', and more to present myself in equality. Pacing him, I suppose like horses, trotting alongside one another. I don't feel the need to 'keep up', just to show that I'm already at the same speed he is, a pace I've always been at. As if by chance the bridal paths we were taking happened to join up and we're gallantly enjoying the outdoors at the pace we've always traveled.

Others seem to be trying to edge out in front, as if in a race. Bizarrely, it's as though they are panting and snorting too. Maybe because they've had to suddenly add to their previous pace and are slightly out of breath.

There are two things I find the most interesting of all, one is the way in which 'egotites' are choosing to react to this new Stallion, and two, the way in which we all appear to be on the same path - but no-one wants to admit to it.

The Stallion, the ΓΌber 'egotite', has come in with 'fresh' ideas - a clear new strategy. The problem is - it's not fresh. The difference may be, that he will be the one that finally achieves it... the idea, that elusive end goal. In my 4-or-so-years at the company, we've attempted the same piece of work no less than 3-times. The past attempt even matches what the new Stallion has recommended we put in place. The reason why stems from commitment, drive and follow-through. Each time we haven't been able to get enough of a noise out of it to start a stampede. Maybe he can.

The way in which the 'egotites' are reacting is pretty expected: My idea. My area of interest. My area of expertise. My hard-work. My control. Mine. The new Stallion appears to have been saddled up with some interesting headgear that prevents him from seeing any of this - or maybe he does (quite a bit more fiendish than I would care to suspect). The master of egotism merrily tramples over these feelings. And it's going 'noticed'.

In one respect he shouldn't fear to do so. As this previous ownership clearly has not worked. If he is to deliver it, then he is the one that must show complete ownership in it to generate that noise. In another, wounded egos are taking this bitterly, and this may weaken the support for the Stallion, leaving him to make way along the path - alone. At the minute, it's almost as if he has simply upset the whole herd. Horses that are so unsettled tend to bolt or break, neither are ideal when you're wanting to lead.

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