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  • Writer's pictureLars Christensen

No Ego by Cy Wakeman ~ 3 minute read

I finished this book in April 2021. I recommend this book 6/10

I give this book a reasonably low score. The book is well-written, but I think this book is a little unbalanced. Cy Wakeman makes the case that leaders have to stop sugarcoating the workplace and use reality as the main driver. And in that, I think she is right—where I'm cautious is, if you as a newer manager/leader went into a new team following this book, you might not seem human.

With that said, as a more seasoned manager and a manager at a Silicon Valley company, this book might be a good reminder that the manager of a team should not feel responsible when conditions are not perfect but make employees choose to be on board with reality.

Get your copy of the book here.

My notes and thoughts:

  • Having an ego is nothing to feel bad about. Yes, it is also important to recognize that one of the ego's main functions is to generate emotional waste.

  • We already talked about one example that feeds ego—the Open-Door policy. It invites people to drop by and vent, to tell stories that, in most cases, aren't based on reality. Venting might feel good in the moment, but it's just a way of letting the ego take the wheel. Ego loves a good ride in the BMW(bitching, moaning, and whining.)

  • For most people, ego is like a two-year-old who clings to a toy. Because toddler's brains are not fully developed, trying to get something away from two-year-olds is like trying to talk ego out of it's story.

  • Question to ask your team member:

    • What do you know for sure?

    • What would be most helpful in this situation?

    • What could you do next that would add value?

    • What could you do right now to help?

    • Would you rather be right or happy?

    • What is helpful in this situation—your expertise or your opinion?

    • How could we make this work?

  • Ego resists the things it knows will kill it. Things lie:

    • Mental flexibility

    • Self-reflection

    • Taking full accountability

    • Forgiveness

    • Letting go

    • Moving on

  • As long as people continue to believe that reality is hurting them, they will remain victims. If you can learn to separate suffering from reality, you can ease your own pain in readiness.

  • Accountability strategy:

    • Grow accountability in those people who were willing and receptive.

    • Reward and support high-accountable behavior and thinking.

    • Transition those who were consistently in a state of low accountability off my team

  • How to start to build accountability into your workforce:

    1. Stop codling and start listening to the right people. Once you acknowledge that not all employee's opinions have equal value, you're on your way to engaging the right people.

    2. Focus on the right list. If you aren't able to filter for accountability in your survey, do it in the post-survey action planning.

    3. Do action planning differently. This is where you can make it clear that employees share accountability for their own experience instead of asking employees, "What can the organization—or I as a leader—do to help you improve your engagement?"

    4. Work for the willing. Without apology, invest the bulk of your time and energy in your best and brightest and those who are willing to get there.

    5. Remove disengagement as an option. Survey results are a snapshot in time, and you should have the uncomfortable conversation with an employee if they seem to be disengaged. "Hey, John, What's your plan to get re-engaged?"

  • Stop trying to create a perfect workspace. Change, conflict, challenges, disagreements, discomfort, and frustration are all part of the price of workplace participation. And that's good news! As it turns out, humans can't be happy and engaged without struggle and strife. Without obstacles and mistakes, it would be impossible to feel a sense of accomplishment or experience professional and personal growth. Instead of removing healthy hurdles for your employees, coach them to make the leap.

  • 4 factors of accountability:

    • Commitment

    • Resilience

    • Ownership

    • Continuous learning

  • 5 phases of development

    • Challenge

    • Experienced accountability

    • Feedback

    • Self-reflection

    • Collegial mentoring

  • Change is hard? Our research shows something different. Change is hard only for the unready. Change is painful only for people who attach their identities and happiness to a mythical perfect set of circumstances.

  • Transparency is a keystone of high-functioning businesses. In an environment of business readiness, leaders share business information quickly and fluidly, without sugarcoating or softening reality. "Here is what we know today. Here is where you come in. How can you help?"

  • In the end, if you don't have buy-in from the employee, it comes down to 2 options: "What is your plan to get bought in?"—"What are your plans on getting transition off this assignment or team?"

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