Functional Egos vs Dysfunctional Egos

When I first stared thinking about the book I want to write I started with the assumption that all egos are bad. Egos get in the way of unity and inhibit mutual understanding. Egos are what cause people to step on each other as a means to promote themselves. Egos were bad and they needed to be defeated.

Not long ago I was having lunch with a friend and I was trying to explain what my book would be about. I was explaining how social media is crushing the egos of big businesses because through our ability to communicate on the open web we can expose the truth about a brand and we can collaborate in such a way to become a real competitive threats to the existing status quo. Social media was enabling us to “defeat the ego.”

Then my friend asked me a question that stopped me in my tracks. He asked me to define ego.

I had been running on the assumption that the ego was bad and that there was a universal agreement that the ego is bad. However the moment I was asked to define ego I immediately realized my assumption was completely wrong. I guess we can say I was confronted by my own egotistical assumptions.

I went home and started looking up definitions of ego; there are many and they are very varied.But overall the ego is our sense of self. Perhaps defeating our sense of self is not what I am advocating.

This single question put me back to the starting line.

I began to segment the different definitions of ego into two categories; Functional and Dysfunction

Below is a chart of function and dysfunctional egos based on personas that I have created for the book. Each persona is based on people I have had significant experience with, however the names have been changed to protect…..me.

What I have noticed is that social media tends to reward people with functional egos more often than those with dysfunctional egos. There are also a few key traits that seem common for all ego types which includes:

  • A person with an obstructive ego will not be able to recognize the need to improve themselves, open themselves up to new ideas.
  • Modeling the way is about earning the right and the respect to lead through direct involvement and action.
  • Functional egos hold themselves accountable – dysfunctional egos believe that their facade is real.

What are some other ego types or characteristics that you have encountered that I have not considered here?