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Ego Check: Why Executive Hubris is Wrecking Companies and Careers and How to Avoid the Trap Hardcover – January 2, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Kaplan Business (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419535358
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419535352
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,225,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Matthew Hayward started his career at Accenture and has worked as an investment banker with UBS Warburg and as a venture capital investor with AusAsean Ventures.  He left the corporate world for academia in 1992 to pursue a PhD in organizations and strategy at Columbia University.  Since 2003, he has been an assistant professor at Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado.  He is considered among the leading academic researchers on hubris, with work published in top tier academic outlets.  He also consults with companies such as Dell, Ericsson, Intel, and Pearson on leadership and management issues.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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The book Ego Check, by Mathew Hayward, seems like it was written exactly for me.
Victor Niederhoffer
I would highly recommend Ego Check to anyone aspiring to achieve sustainable success in the corporate world.
Mike Myatt
Its an exciting book because of the insight that the author provides into each scenario.
Richard Hayward

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Victor Niederhoffer on February 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The book Ego Check, by Mathew Hayward, seems like it was written exactly for me. It's about the tendency towards overconfidence in striving individuals. The four major hallmarks of same are: excessive pride and boastfulness; failure to listen to foils who tell you when you're wrong; refusal to get feedback about the outcome of your activities; and not planning for problems, consequences, and corrective measures in advance.

The author gives case studies that show how these four faults led to disaster in the case of mountain climber Rob Hall, business executives Jean Messiers, Meg Whitman, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Dean Kamen, Merck in the Vioxx disaster, NASA in the Challenger and Columbia disasters, and The National Kidney program.

The only problem with the book is that it relies mainly anecdotal methodology to prove its points. It includes numerous cases where pride was very successful, such as Apple and Dell, where the same executive was guilty of hubris and of perfectly rational overconfidence. It espouses people like Jack Welch and Warren Buffet as role models for how not to let hubris get the better of their organization. But anyone who seriously studies these executives' activities might conclude, as I do, that these are sanctimonious scoundrels who are masterful at retrofitting their personae into a form that the media will love and whose judgment is superior to the free market.

As I read the book, I found myself thinking about my hobby, electric circuits. So many of them go into short circuits and uncontrollable output because the output is tied to the input in a positive feedback loop rather than a negative one that dampens the volatility and controls the output.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Kai Larsen on January 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I took this book with me on vacation to Mexico, mostly because I figured I might get tired of the award-winning sci-fi book I brought. What I didn't realize was that the moment I opened Ego Check I would be hooked by the author's incisive writing and great case stories about many of the world's most celebrated CEOs. As I read about these CEOs and their successes as they gained confidence in their abilities, it was hard not to feel their pain as they fell from grace through their following over-confidence.

As I was reading, I felt that even though I have little or no power myself, I could learn much from this book as the author explained how to apply his principles to everyday situations. I ended up reading this book by the pool (I have the pictures to prove it -- my wife was not happy ;) and finished it in two days in between scuba diving).

Conclusion: Definitely a great read for anyone in a position of authority, or anyone working for someone in a position of authority (that should cover about 95% of the population over the age of 18). Highly recommended!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on July 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Mathew Hayward's unusual book draws upon mythology to establish a major business premise and then proves it statistically. The premise is that hubris (CEO arrogance) is usually the source of illogical corporate mistakes, such as overpayment for acquisitions. The author draws heavily upon his research and other studies about "behavioral decision theory" to back up the concept that great pride often brings on a great fall. This profundity is basic to the philosophy of Greek tragedy, Dante, Shakespeare and Milton. The author used this concept to analyze more than 100 corporate mergers. He found that CEOs were usually the decision makers behind substantial overpayments for acquisitions. He concludes that egomania and narcissism, but not courage and conviction, must be "checked at the door." getAbstract recommends this interesting, thoughtful book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mike Myatt on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have written often on the topics of executive ego, pride, arrogance, etc., and found Ego Check to be a much needed work. Hayward does a great job of shining the light on what many know to be true, but few will actually publicly address. In my book Leadership Matters...The CEO Survival Manual: WHAT IT TAKES TO REACH THE C-SUITE AND STAY THERE I discuss many of these topics in great detail as I feel hubris is a key component in determining one's success in the business world. I would highly recommend Ego Check to anyone aspiring to achieve sustainable success in the corporate world.
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