Oh dear. This book feels like a moneyspinner/cashcow. The author's style is very irritating - she makes lots and lots of unfalsifiable generalisations with absolutely no attempt to reference/justifiy her arguments. She makes statements such as 'fear is the emotional trademark of the ego'....which is ridiculous! Fear is also a highly adaptive response to threat.
The book is also full of endless repetition. After more or less every paragraph, there is an italicised summary of what you've just read. So if this review were in the book you'd get: "The author's style is very irritating - she makes lots and ltos of unfalsifiable generalisations with absolutely no attempt to reference/justify her arguments'.
Why? Why on earth do we need text that we've literally just read repeated in italics?!
And when one of the only references she provides is to Eckhard Tolle's definition of 'ego', you know you're dealing with new age mish-mush which is merely an amalgamation of others' thinking/philosophies/prejudices.
Basically the thesis of the book seems to be: most people are protecting themselves in many ways which are unhelpful and result in underperformance at work. By becomeing more mindful, less defensive, more humble and curious, you can become a better leader. The end.
on 20 February 2012
Dr Sarah Morris's book Egoless: The Final Frontier in Leadership has an intriguing cover: a rock, held up by a feather, which gets the brain working and the juices flowing, ready for encountering a paradigm-shifting read.
And this the author manages to do, in a book that can be easily read in one sitting yet which packs a punch. I found the pages turned easily and I didn't want to put it down until I had completed the picture. In it, Dr Morris presents a new model of the journey to conscious leadership, taking us through the transformation from ego-full to ego-less leadership in a way that feels both satisfying and inspiring.
While Egoless may not represent the final frontier in leadership forever more (who knows to where we may yet evolve), I do believe that this book marks out a new and yet undiscovered frontier in the leadership development game. Conscious leadership as a definition and a field is extremely leading edge, yet it is something that we will be hearing about with ever-increasing frequency until it becomes mainstream, and books like this are vital in helping us to navigate the territory.
I found it comforting to have the journey mapped out with the clarity and structure that Dr Morris brings to her topic. Against the backdrop of corporate dissatisfaction and pain, a particularly hot potato in current times, she explains how and why the ego is one of the most dysfunctional forces at play in the workplace, leading as it does to the negative and self-serving behaviours we as readers can't but help to identify with (in ourselves and in others): control, manipulation, exploitation, blame and fear. "I guarantee", writes Dr Morris, "your full potential is being held hostage by your ego." And, the way she describes it, you can see how this is completely true. We could be so much more if we were less in the protective and defensive thrall of our egos.
With the case for change clearly spelled out, we are led through four stages in the model of transformation towards conscious leadership: the Dysfunctional Ego, the Functional Ego, the Authentic Leader and the Conscious Leader. Throughout the journey, Dr Morris brings our attention to the need to first heal the ego (thus making ourselves more robust and less prone to protective and defensive behaviours that serve to separate us as leaders from others) before we can learn to gently put the ego aside and transcend its boundaries of separation, making it possible for us to adopt an approach of `we' rather than `me'.
In fact, this journey from `me' to `we' marks the passage throughout the book and the reader is brought to a point of seeing how by giving up one's defensive, prickly positions it becomes possible to lead at the highest levels from a place of openness, service and connectedness to others and the world around us that transcends the ego.
The theory is good and the concepts sound, but what worked particularly well for me was the way the author made the book practical. There were descriptors of each stage (enabling the reader to clearly identify which parts of the leadership journey might apply to him or her), together with practical exercises designed and collected to assist readers in their development. Thus, the book meets the dual purpose of describing a new model of leadership and serving to be a self-development book at the same time. Readers with experience in NLP, transforming unhelpful beliefs and shadow work will find exercises they feel familiar with, while those practiced in meditation, mindfulness, awareness and creating breathing space from the ego will enjoy the links between these exercises and developing the capacities of the conscious leader. From my perspective, there is something for everyone and I found myself trying out some of the exercises as I went, with notes to do the others later.
Egoless contains compelling reasons to embrace conscious leadership. Without our egos getting in our way, separating us from those we're leading and prompting us into all sorts of counterproductive behaviours, we can as conscious leaders be liberated to communicate personally meaningful, purposeful and energizing visions, be authentic in our dealings with others, and serve our followers properly by removing obstacles in their way so that they can achieve the vision without us becoming an obstacle ourselves. The result? Improved performance and productivity, greater engagement and commitment, better creativity and problem solving, all made possible through presence of trust, transparency and teamwork. For those leaders seeking to push the boundaries of who they are, understand what in their human nature has been limiting them so far, and transcend these limitations, Egoless will provide you with an insightful and transformative journey.