Business Eye: Kick out the egotists, love the specialists

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt
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As a man in my early 50s, I am already on Saturday morning of life’s week and I may not even get time to go to a Sunday service before I meet my maker.

What I have learned during this time is that so much changes so quickly. The iPhone is only seven years old and after just four years there are many more iPads sold each day than there are babies born.

Accelerating advances in technology make it impossible to stay abreast of change.

Thankfully there is one area, critical to success in business, where we do have a chance at mastery – the attitude of our people defines the great from the good companies.

In my experience, you can put people into one of two buckets, those who focus first on others and their contribution, and those who focus first on themselves and what’s in it for them. Of course we all exhibit elements of both, but the defining trait is the place you go to first.

The great people are usually the quiet ones, who think of themselves as introverted.

These people are actually steely. They develop strength under the continual nagging spotlight of their harshest critic, themselves.

They will forever look after you, the job, and their team before their own needs. If anything, you have to protect these guys because they will burn out for lack of self-focus.

These are the gems.

They are the specialists. When presented with a new idea, despite any fears they will say “Let’s do it”, bringing their challenge and expertise to the ‘how’, not the ‘why’.

The people to avoid are the dominant voices who think of themselves as important, are driven by comparing themselves to others, and who tend to want to blame before looking in the mirror.

They just have to be right and will work for it to appear this way, come what may.

Their confident exterior is but a mask for deep-rooted fears that they are not enough.

When presented with your new ideas, they go straight to challenge and will try to undermine your leadership.

These are ones who ask: “Why do you just want yes men?” Their ego is in control, they see themselves in the centre of things and important, and they respond to others’ ideas with the ‘tyranny of how’ – as if anything worth achieving ever looked likely at the outset.

My advice; Love your specialists and lose your egotists.