Ego vs. EQ: A book review by Bob Morris

Ego vs EQEgo vs. EQ: How Top Leaders Beat 8 Ego Traps with Emotional Intelligence
Jen Shirkani
bibliomotion books + media (2013)

How to “open the door to identify your own ego traps with some simple actions to remedy them”

As I began to read this book, I was reminded of Mark Goulston’s book, Get Out of Your Own Way at Work… and Help Others Do the Same: Conquering Self-Defeating Behavior on the Job. Over more years than I wish to acknowledge, I learned two especially valuable lessons: Almost all human limits are self-imposed, and, We cannot always control what happens to us but we [begin italics] can [end italics] control how we respond to what happens to us.

Jen Shirkani is convinced (and I agree) that the nature and extent of an executive’s emotional intelligence (EQ) will probably determine the nature and extent of her or his effectiveness as a leader and manager. She shares this explanation by Daniel Goleman that EQ is “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.”

She focuses on eight traps and explains how to avoid or overcome them. All are directly or indirectly the result of what I would characterize as an unhealthy ego, one that is essentially narcissistic in nature, and one with an insatiable appetite for attention, adoration, and approval.

The title of her book is somewhat misleading because it suggests an adversarial relationship between ego and EQ when, in fact or at least in my own opinion, those with a healthy ego are most likely to develop EQ, The troublemakers are those, with an unhealthy ego, who are delusional about their own strengths and virtues, feel threatened by strengths and virtues admired in others, resent and reject constructive criticism, and in countless other ways are thoughtless and insensitive except when their own self-interests are involved. Some unhealthy egos are terminally ill but many (if not most) of the others can – over time –healed by healthier values, attitudes, and behavior. How? Shirkani explains how in this book.

These are among the dozens of business subjects and issues of special interest and value to me, also listed to indicate the scope of Shirkani’s coverage.

o Eight Steps to Sidestep When Ruling the Mountaintop (Pages xxi-xxvi)
o A Closer Look at Ignoring Feedback You Don’t Like (7-15)
o EQ Antidote to Ignoring Feedback You Don’t Like (19-22)
o The Battle of Ego vs. EQ: Believing Your Technical Skills Trump Your Leadership Skills (36-38)
o The Battle of Ego vs. EQ: Surrounding Yourself with More of You (54-58)
o What to Do When You’re Surrounded by You (60-61)
o The Battle of Ego vs. EQ: Not Letting Go of Control (70-72)
o Beware of Level Jumping (88-89)
o EQ Antidote to Underestimating How Much You Are Being Watched (103-108)
o EQ Antidote to Losing Touch with Frontline Experience (123-126)
o Relapsing Back to Your Old Ways (129-131)
o EQ Antidote to Relapsing Back to Your Old Ways (141-143)
o The Time and Attention Factor (149-151)
o A few simple ideas to lessen ego and maximize EQ (157-158)

Shirkani makes skillful use of several reader-friendly devices that include bullet-point and hollow-point checklists of key points, Tables, clusters of “Tips” such as “Five Tips for Handling the Feedback Process (Page 23), and “In a Nutshell” summaries of key points as well as “Applying the Three Rs” (Recognize, Read, and Respond) at the conclusion of each chapter. These devices will help facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of important material later.

Who will derive the greatest benefit from reading and then (I hope) re-reading this book? I highly recommend it to all executives but especially to those who have supervisory responsibilities at all levels and in all areas of the given enterprise. Also, to others now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked upon one. Of course, the value of the insights, and counsel that Sirkani provides in abundance will be determined almost entirely by how effectively a reader applies what he or she learns.

I suspect that those in greatest need of what Jen Sirkani offers are least likely to be aware of or acknowledge that need, much less be willing and willing and able to address it in a responsible manner. However, her book will be invaluable to countless others, especially those now preparing for a career as well as those who have only recently embarked upon one.

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