I want to start this post with a quote. “The greatest disease among leaders is not alcoholism, it is egoism.” from Harold Geneen in his book Managing. Merriam Webster says egoism “is excessive concern for oneself with or without exaggerated feelings of self-importance.” Meaning that sometimes excessive concern for oneself is blatant pride and sometimes used in an attempt to alleviate an inferiority complex. We need to consider Egoism in China and ourselves.
Let’s take a look in the mirror
We as leaders all suffer from some form of this. I know I must actively fight against it within me or it secretly influences all I do. When we are not comfortable enough in our own skin or are clearly working more to prove ourselves than to advance the business, then we are in trouble and so is the business. To pretend that it does not impact us means we are just in denial. If we cannot openly talk about it with our spouse or business partner, then we likely are in trouble. Like alcoholism, it is important that we are not in denial. And it is important to know we all have this to some degree.
Now, about Egoism in China
China is a low self esteem culture. Very few people are comfortable with their own skin. Many companies fail to see how big an impact that is going to have on their bottom line. We pursue indigenization of the workforce without considering how to face this problem. Technology is often the sole consideration in hiring while the greatest disease in leadership goes unchecked. Leaders throughout the organization have issues, and no one touches it. Then companies indigenize, and they can no longer really understand their China organization. See Also A Little Lie in China Can Tell You a Lot.
So I say we need to get this problem out of the closet. We need to both look in the mirror and consider carefully the leaders we are advancing in our China organization.