A Tactic for Other's Frustration - and an Unfortunate REVIEWED: No Ego (Cy Wakeman)

This one is going around, and I should have known better. I admit, I came into Cy Wakeman’s No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, and Drive Big Results with high hopes and low expectations.


The book isn’t worth your time, but one tactic or approach is very useful. So I’m going to share that tactic with you. Now you can do something productive with the few hours it would take you to read No Ego.


Ms. Wakeman’s analysis of ego starts at the truth: people respond to certain situations by creating stories that just aren’t true. These stories are often expressed as frustration, victimhood, or entitlement. Her first story is about the failure of the open door policy, and that it simply invites complaining.


Ms. Wakeman never interrogates why her employees are constantly coming to her with strong negative emotion reactions. These reactions, remember, are the immediate response to an interaction, and are therefore the beginning of an emotion relationship. Emotion relationships are the expected feelings we have in a situation based on past experiences. A wise scholar of human existence would suppose that maybe it happens because of events in the workplace. If employees are writing stories that aren’t true, perhaps it is because those stories are true in other aspects of the work?


The organizational environment impacts the decisions that people make, and leadership’s role is to shape these environmental factors to allow people to make good decisions. For Ms. Wakeman, it seems that individuals are solely responsible for their decisions. While this is true in the abstract, it is inaccurate – even dangerous – in the real world. I don’t disagree that some people decide to not perform and should be let go, as I discuss in the section in Redefining Leadership, but Wakeman takes this to the extreme.