Where Egos Dare – Book Review

Where Egos Dare
Authors: B. Mcfarlin & Paul D. Sweeney
Publisher: Kogan Page
ISBN-13: 978-0749437732

Review by Francis Williams

Mcfarlin and Sweeney present what they believed to be untold truths about narcissistic leaders and how to survive them. The authors view narcissism as the seamy side of leadership, where leaders become corporate vampires and fighting back requires the organizational equivalent to overcome it. Their book, Where Egos Dare focuses on this hidden underbelly of leadership.

This book provides an optimistic message with tools and tactics to fight against the worst excesses of leaders; to turn negatives into positives. The knowledge will therefore empower employees and serve as a source of academic resource.

Focus is drawn on leaders with tremendous destructive power, to employee motivation and corporate performance in the ranks of many corporations. It is extremely challenging for employees to cope with and defeat. The authors established that such leaders have six main characteristics (Reliance on manipulation and exploitation; Impulsive and unconventional behaviour; Excessive impression management; Poor administrative practices; Inability to recognize a flawed vision; and Failure to plan for succession).

In their opinion, narcissistic leaders’ obsessive egotism and vanity (warped self-absorption) actions humiliate, mortify, and outrage employees and such behaviour over time saps employees morale, drain them of their will to fight back and lower their performance. In the end such leaders destroy the organization.

The language used is simple, bringing out the facts from the specific to the general. The idea of whether what the authors alleged are based on empirical truth or not, is purely the prerogative of the reader, but the fact remains that, we need to be concerned about narcissistic leaders as we live in an unpredictable world.  The common notion that the rise and fall of corporations depend on ‘the leaders’ who sometimes leave out the contributions of the other employees, should also not be over sighted as readers interact with the work

The work is detailed and will serve as a rich resource material for employers and employees. The simplicity and in-depth presentation provide readers with a thorough understanding of what the writers intend to convey. The writers ensured that every explanation is succeeded by a summary note that might even serve as a reference point when need arises.A lot of material is presented to a point that readers’ attention is inevitably drawn to the nature of such leaders and their characteristics that the possibility of easily forgetting the ideas conveyed is slim. The aim of the exercise is achieved to a greater extent. They writers ensured that they presented the problem, traced the origin, ways of identifying narcissistic leaders and strategies to deal with such leaders, thus authenticating the points presented. With such details, awareness is not only created in readers, but the tendency to develop into a narcissistic leader is minimized.

However, the work has some challenges, in the sense that using a specific subject to generalize and make conclusions demands some form of reservations. Leadership in this contemporary world is dynamic and as such, susceptible to changes. So, it is unrealistic to draw such generalizations, to represent a whole. There are symptoms of a bias presentation on the subject; it is so narrowly focused; one sided, that no room is created for critical and objective evaluation by readers. Efforts were made to point out the strengths of narcissistic leaders but with an element of skepticism, with very little points. The readers therefore have no opportunity to take a second look at the issue of narcissistic leadership, but are left with a stereotype view on the subject. Thus, the idea of neutrality is yet to be ascertained about the author’ attitude to the subject.

Constructive narcissism is recommended as a positive side necessary for organizations. This is difficult to measure since the impact of the destruction narcissism cause far out weigh the good effects.

Having reviewed this piece of exercise, I must assert that the book, Where Egos Dare, is not only useful for academic purposes, but also a rich resource material for parenting and mentoring. This attempt by Macfarlin and Sweeney is exhaustive enough to be graded with other authorities on issues of similar subjects.
It is a wide appeal for everyone who works for a living; for those working for a narcissistic leader to re-establish a sense of control over their jobs; a caution for those who have not yet encountered narcissistic leaders. It will equip human resource managers and organizational development professionals and help them shape corporate policies, training procedures and cultures to limit and prevent narcissistic leader.

McFarlin and Sweeney (2000): McFarlin, D.B., and Sweeney, P.D., Where Egos Dare, London: Kogan Page Limited

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