Standing up when the boss walks into the office.
Bosses expecting to be greet by officers with flowers at the airport.
Taking offence if decisions are questioned.
Never really listening to any suggestion, feedback.
A peer acting high handed because he secured a bigger order than yours?
These are daily instances of ego at work place. Right from the boss to peers and even the juniors, dealing with work place ego is a minefield. We as Indians take it as a way of life where even mediocre or small achievements are celebrated like big victories; that’s once again ego at play. Yes, we all mouth humility and equality; only mouth; very few actually practice.
The only person who ever talked about it openly on a public stage was Narayana Murthy; it hit one and all like a bolt from the blue when he said that we Indians have a very high ego quotient. It is always difficult to digest truth; so when he first said it, one felt that he no longer really liked India or Indians; after all hadn’t he also said, “India is far, far away from realising the ambition of developing smart cities! But truth hurts and what he said about the smart cities and about our huge ego quotient is so very true and it is only a true Indian who can see it and pinprick us to improve.
He is probably the first CEO in India to even bring this factor into consideration – highest ego per unit of achievement. He said that the “know-it-all” attitude of the bureaucrats was one of the reasons why we are not able to achieve what we set out to achieve.
Citing an example which his friend and co-founder of Infosys, Nandan Nilekani had while working for Aadhar, Murthy narrated, “ Nandan was giving a lecture on his experience in designing and implementing Aadhaar sometime back. Somebody asked him how difficult was it to work in Delhi. And Nilekani's response was that the first hurdle that you come across is that they (bureaucrats) say we know this. The toughest hurdle is if they say we are already doing this. There isn't much to do then.”
As against this, he said that while working as IT advisor to the Thai PM some 10 years ago, the Thai bureaucrats would make a presentation and Murthy would give suggestions, which they used to write down. The next time he went there, the officials would show him how the suggestions he had made were being implemented. Well, the Indian bureaucrat never writes anything; well, he knows everything, so why write!
Really, what Murthy said was no exaggeration. This high ego to achievement ratio is very crucial as it will give us insights to understand why even after 70 years of Independence, our growth is so rickety. And to think that India is considered to be the spiritual capital of the world.
There is no mathematical formula yet developed to quantify this ego quotient but just as we have measures for Emotional Quotient (EQ) and Intelligence Quotient (IQ), surely a formula for Ego can also be worked out. Research carried out by The Carnegie Institute of Technology shows that IQ can help you be successful to the extent of just 20 percent in life. The rest 80 percent success depends on your EQ; 80% EQ: 20% IQ.
We could probably get some insights into this from Deepak Chopra’s spiritual quotient (SQ). Chopra has given a formula of spiritual quotient in terms of Deed (D) and Ego (E). According to Deepak Chopra SQ =D/E and this is probably the same thing which Murthy was talking about. The smallest of achievements gives one a giant size ego and this celebration of mediocrity is what we see in all facets of our life, right from the film stars, leaders, bureaucrats, sportsmen; all have a very high ego quotient with a very low SQ.
It is great food for thought - ego quotient exists but we never realized that it existed – similar to the questions about our existence. Maybe we need to introspect and watch ourselves at work and home and get introduced to the giant ego living within us all.