The Costs of Ego

“Ego is the invisible line item on every company’s profit and loss statement.”
—David Marcum and Steven Smith in egonomics: What Makes Ego Our Greatest Asset (or Most Expensive Liability), Fireside, 2007

Fifty-three percent of businesspeople estimate ego costs their company 6 to 15 percent of annual revenue; 21 percent say this cost ranges from 16 to 20 percent.

That’s somewhat astonishing, considering “ego” is difficult to measure by any standards. But even if ego accounts for only 6 percent of revenue, the annual “cost of ego” would translate to nearly $1.1 billion to the average Fortune 500 company — roughly equal to the average annual profit of these same companies.

What are we talking about here? Most people associate “ego” with words like “arrogant,” “self-centered,” “closed-minded,” “defensive” and “conceited.”

Big egos invade every team conversation, boardroom debate, marketing plan, client interaction, contract negotiation, employment interview and performance review. There’s no question it gets in the way and is a major cause of bad decision-making.

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This is a brief synopsis of a 2000 word article suitable for consultants’ newsletters for executives and leaders in organizations. It is available for purchase with full reprint rights, which means you may put your name on it and use it in your newsletters, blogs or other marketing materials. You may also modify it and add your personal experiences.

There are two versions of this article: 2000 words and 1000 words (approximate word counts). The full article covers the following sub-topics:

10 Signs of Ego
Liability or Asset?
Ego as a Good Thing
Strengths: Returns & Costs
Why Businesses Fail
4 Warning Signs of Big Ego
Solutions
3 Keys to a Healthy Ego
Humility
Curiosity
Veracity

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