16 June, 2021

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Egoism & Denial Of Leadership

By Harendra de Silva

Prof Harendra de Silva

As we rise in the ranks, we acquire more power. When we have power, other people would want to please us by appearing to listen more attentively, agreeing with our fantasies and laughing at our jokes. All of these ‘tickles’ our ego. In Sri Lanka around most leaders, there are the “yes sir, no sir” whom I call ‘catchers’ who profess to be experts and advisers some who even reinforces the “three bags full” (of money??) concept. The same habit is applicable to opposition even when they are not in power! Some depend on their old school tie, trusting only the closed circle. Autistic traits may contribute? Bending into 3 or even to 5 when greeting leaders is another way of tickling the ego of leaders! Some may even end up with near orgasms! For Royalty there is a documented protocol even to step back after greeting!! Before meeting Princess Anne, at the award ceremony for the Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Child heath, I remember being coached before the ceremony… But I messed it up right Royally!!… Long years ago, watching ‘yes minister/prime minister gave me a glimpse of ignorant ministers and prime ministers led by the manipulative administration! However, if it is for the good of the people we don’t mind.

When the ego is pleased, it grows, into a vicious cycle, gathering momentum and getting swept off the feet, away from reality! David Owen, and Jonathan Davidson, call this the “hubris syndrome,” which they define as a “disorder of the possession of power, particularly power which has been associated with overwhelming success (? Often only Perceived), held for a period of years”. In Sri Lanka. Not periods of years; it takes only a few seconds for our hierarchy to ‘fill their empty vessels with non-existent matter to make more noise! We are Unique as a sub species. Even by the way they walk, with extended arms twisted backwards and a handphone directed backwards and the chest and head forward defines the ‘brand’ of person! However, it is not limited to politicians. 

A certain degree of ego but better defined as self-esteem is crucial for survival, but unchallenged ego can spiral our values into negative values. In the words of Jennifer Woo, “Managing our ego’s craving for fortune, fame, and influence is the prime responsibility of any leader.” When we’re caught in the grip of the ego’s craving for more power, we lose control. Ego makes us susceptible to manipulation; it narrows our field of vision; and it corrupts our behaviour, often causing us to act against our values”. Our open mindedness become extinct with directions from the top manipulated by the catchers around us and compounded by surrounding insecurity, makes a rational person (before assuming office), just a robot who cannot use logic inculcated in our forebrain. Certain cultural protocols catalyse this effect!

“Our ego is like a target, the bigger it is, the more vulnerable it is to being hit. Because our ego constantly craves attention. It makes us predictable. When people know this, the manipulators can play to our ego. When we’re a victim of our own need, to be seen as ‘great’, we end up being led into making decisions that may be detrimental to ourselves, and people at large.” Making us mere tools of maintaining power for others!

Leaders at whatever level, who cannot comprehend reality without feet on the ground, always have catchers around him/her who lift them up, and purposely prevent him or her in getting a wide range of opinions especially from true professionals or grass roots. They don’t believe in INDEPENDENT THINK TANKS. THESE ADVISORS who pose as experts are pseudo experts with borrowed opinions, who come close to the leadership by stooping and bum sucking! They advise how to take decisions that would be beneficial politically and often personal Monetary gain. But not for the benefit of the people. These catchers often have links to businessmen, underworld and even international connections or Mafias. They do not allow anyone else to get close. It also keeps leaders’ content and happy in their perceived secure bubble…  But often led down the garden path…. At a conference in Winnipeg on child soldiers, I remember how ‘advisors’ tried hard (unsuccessfully) to prevent me from meeting Minister Kadiragamar face to face, but advise from me had to go through them (with their interpretations and distortions). At another conference in New York, the Health Minister had to be advised through ‘them’… so that they get all the credit! It was frustrating all right. This is only a vee bit of my experience. I am sure others could write volumes on the subject. Keeping quiet on our experiences make us passive perpetrators.

In the midst of the damning Corona pandemic, why are brilliant minds of vast experience being kept aside? The popularity of being spokesmen has led to a battle with most getting shuffled around in the merry-go-round? Prof. Malik Pieris the retired virologist from Hong Kong is hardly seen. He should be the Anthony Fauci of Sri Lanka! Prof Kamini Mendis and Dr. Palitha Abeykoon are names that come to my mind who have enormous International experience.

Another side effect of ego is denial. In the present epidemic we have constantly denied community spread, calling everything a bubble! Obviously if common sense prevails: when bubbles expand, adjacent bubble coalesce to form one huge bubble; i.e. community spread. In the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the ego in us, (maybe the ministry officials or others) simply refuse to admit reality which is unacceptable and unmanageable. Moving out of denial may be felt as denigratory to the inflated ego?

An inflated ego also corrupts our behaviour. When we are made to believe that: we’re the sole architects of our success (for example the war, where a group effort is made into personal achievement for egoistic gain). We saw the battles off the battlefield recently whether we are ‘in’ the ‘group of seven’ or not! we tend to be arrogant, ruder, more selfish, and often justifying violations. Another defence mechanism of egoism is arrogance! Getting angry and screaming at a person questioning your actions, is a short-term strategy of not admitting ignorance. This is especially true in the face of setbacks (popularity) and criticism. In this way, an inflated ego prevents us from learning from our mistakes and creates a defensive (Impenetrable?) wall that makes it difficult to appreciate the rich lessons we gather from failure. I believe people keep on making worse mistakes with increasing confidence in the face of an applauding audience of bum suckers! Since we tend to be in a closed bubble hearing only what we want to hear, often with filtered and modified information by the catchers, more like a frog in a well concept!

Why did the olden day kings disguise themselves and mingle with the common man? To hear and feel reality! They could not trust the close advisors; I suppose. Some time ago there was a story about one of our presidents who tried it? But there is no authenticity to the story. It destroys a “visionary” leader who may have had a vision, but converted it merely to a delusionary dream adulterated by “advisors”, those who funded or supported victory!

Why does this happen?? Most if not all of us are insecure to different extents and in our bid to survive we have to depend as a group! However, in this endeavour, instead of surviving as a Nation, we sub group within us, as බය්යෝ, ටෝය්යෝ, ජප්පෝ, LTTE, Wahab etc. Each of these subgroups too may have many egoists and most have the egoistic tunnel vision of surviving with varying agendas though the ultimate aim is POWER. All these groups also have the advisors i.e. bum suckers and funders who thrive on hate, racism and bigotry, power, money and violence in order to elevate the egoism in their own leaders while making themselves comfortable and secure!! 

Long Live Egoistic Leaders! Damn the country and the people! Is this our motto? We and our leaders themselves need to be mindful of the damage done by egoism.

STOP. Think of our own egoism in our own little bubbles including you and me! It is a natural survival mechanism of homo sapiens, even within our own family bubble? We need to be mindful in reducing it and differentiate it from self-esteem which is crucial.

*Adapted and interpreted by Prof Harendra de Silva. Adapted from Ego Is the Enemy of Good Leadership

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    This article takes me almost 45 years ago, in my working life. The MD was an unassuming erudite gentlemen of great standing in his profession, eldest male sibling of then family owned business, was held in high esteem by the employees- one and all. Head of a ‘larger family’
    He had the habit of arriving in office at opening time, avoiding the main entrance where the HO and his office was located, in the neighbouring street and walking, greeting one by one with a short, but welcome “chit chat”, on every floor accumulating a wealth of information as to the business, business trends and the direction of the organisation – both good and bad, before start of his business day.
    When due to changes in circumstances in my work life, I came to occupy the cubicle of the Sales Manager, which had glass panes smoked/painted opaque to provide privacy and less inadvertent disturbance by the milling, customers in the showrooms adjacent to it.
    The second day after occupying this cubicle, MD whilst passing had a word of advice. Opening the cubicle door and in a whispering tone, requested that, “I get maintenance department strip the glass panes of paint, to make them clear”.

  • 9
    0

    Professor Harendra De Silva,
    Thank you very much for that enlightening writing (both articles – including that of Carlsberg), though everyone after gaining power (economically and/or politically) does resort to it, frequently, due to inadvertency and not by design. They do not realise the bad effects or what they are missing, doing so, of insulating oneself from their surroundings. The article is an eye opener and commended to be seen by all in position of power. Hope there is a turn around.

    • 5
      1

      A very good timely piece ………. but I’m afraid the intended target won’t read it: even if he does, doesn’t have the nous to comprehend.

      Humanity moves/goes-around in cycles …….. now is the season of charlatans. Deception.

      “Enough, I am still alive; and life has not been devised by morality: it wants deception, it lives on deception–but wouldn’t you know it? Here I am, beginning again, doing what I have always done, the old immoralist and birdcatcher, I am speaking immorally, extra-morally, ‘beyond good and evil.”

      Mahinda did Donald Trump before Donald Trump did Donald Trump!

      In Lanka, all’s forgiven if you are a “good” “Sinhala-Buddhist,” No? ………. Yes, No?

      • 3
        0

        Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
        .
        Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
        .
        To the last syllable of recorded time;
        .
        And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
        .
        The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
        .
        Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
        .
        That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
        .
        And then is heard no more. It is a tale
        .
        Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
        .
        Signifying nothing.


        “His Excellency” ……. and SJ are having their few minutes upon the stage ….. and then heard no more ……..


        For Christ’s sake, Oh! Buddha! ….. please make it brief!

      • 2
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        Please watch the video below.
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-dVEJ_yCsY

      • 2
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        nimal fernando

        “In Lanka, all’s forgiven if you are a “good” “Sinhala-Buddhist,” No? ………. Yes, No?”

        This time I am afraid NO.
        Gota, his clan and and his army commanders might end up in docks for perpetrating genocide on innocent Sinahala and Tamil speaking people, purposely ignoring medical advice from professionals.

        Will you now take up the legal side of the trial at the Hague ICC courts?
        If you are scared or on his payroll or he is in your payroll don’t bother.

        • 2
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          “Gota, his clan and his army commanders might end up in docks for perpetrating genocide on innocent Sinhala and Tamil speaking people, ignoring medical advice from professionals.”

          Native,

          I know what you mean ……. but it’ll never come to pass. They will have to haul Trump, Modi, ……. and a whole host of bigger fish before they focus on Gota. Then his ignorance and stupidity is his best defence. They don’t send mentally infirm to the gallows.

          There are only two ways how this is going to end. Rajapakses’ callous disregard for the people indicate that they are planning to stay in power for generations by force and violence. Or if the living conditions get unbearable the fear and intimidation tactics won’t work ……… people will come on to the streets without any concern for their own safety and topple the government. Then all the Rajapakses will hung upside down in the Gall Face Green like good ol’ Benito. Ever the humanist you are ….. better make sure you wipe off the spit off their faces ………. cause Lester and EE won’t be there ……. by then they would’ve done the ol’ Judas and vanished.

          • 0
            0

            “Will you now take up the legal side of the trial at the Hague ICC courts?
            If you are scared or on his payroll or he is in your payroll don’t bother.”

            The Rajapakses have already hired their Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell: Lester and EE. SJ is Alan Dershowitz ……. too smart and slick for his own good ……. never know whose side he is on ……… or what he is on about! :))

      • 1
        0

        nimal fernando
        In Lanka, all’s forgiven if you are a “good” “Sinhala-Buddhist.
        —-
        Sinhala Buddhists have a very good record for forgiving and forgetting.
        Tamil terrorists slaughtered Sinhala Buddhists for three decades just to grab a piece of land of their country to create a separate State for the descendants of Dravida coolies brought to Yapanaya by Portuguese. After the Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated Tamil terrorists and restored peace, Sinhala Buddhists from South sent lorry loads of cloths, food and other essential items to Yapanaya instead of looking at Tamils as people who killed their mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.
        The Government pardoned, rehabilitated and released about 12,000 LTTE carders who committed atrocities against Sinhala Buddhists but Sinhala Buddhists did not scream ‘they killed our people, they should be hanged’.
        But Tamils on the other hand want to take revenge from Sri Lanka Armed Forces who liberated the country from Tamil terrorists and fabricate war crimes charges and crimes against humanity to drag them to ICJ and punish.
        Even the Catholics keep on insisting that those who are responsible for the Easter Sunday Muslim terrorist attack should be punished.

    • 4
      2

      Dear Prof. Thanks very much. I am in full agreement withi you.
      :
      I though not a supporter of UNP or any other parties, but I agree with Dr Rajitha Senaratne s on today s public statement.
      .
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9Gle3vBCp0

      He is very right about WHO. So called srilanka s best MEDIA MAN, now turned out to be theh PENIS of GOTABAYA- Kingsly Rathanayaka has started with a BLATANT lie. How can these men look at their OWN CHILDREN and their eyes. THese ballige puthas know nothing about about WHO or its composition. You may know it very well as Rajitha makes it clear, there is a panel of experts for their own decisions.

  • 21
    1

    Excellent piece by a Senior Paediatrician but really targetting the youth when they start to fashion their future, and for the middle-aged and seniors.
    Two typical recent examples come to mind. When someone claimed that our Prez was the first to ban chemical fertilizer, no one said Bhutan has done this for past 5 years, and systemically at that.
    When the Prex Media Unit said that the Sinopharm vaccine was approved after HE spoke with the WHO chief, no one objected though later WHO denied it.
    An attitude of ‘Hail to the Chief’ to further nurture the ego of the Chief.

    • 7
      1

      …..Please Read : An attitude of ‘Hail to the Chief’ by the bummers to further nurture the ego of the Chief…..

    • 10
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      MV
      “no one said Bhutan has done this for past 5 years, and systemically at that.”
      There was another episode some years back when Mahinda went to the UN and proclaimed that Sri Lanka had “banned” pornography. Probably some idiot had told him that was possible!

      “Another defence mechanism of egoism is arrogance! Getting angry and screaming at a person questioning your actions, is a short-term strategy of not admitting ignorance.”
      Prof. Narendra deserves a prize for such a clear description of somebody we are saddled with, without naming names.
      The situation we are in comes from entrusting small minds with big tasks.

    • 3
      3

      MV
      One can only laugh.
      It was so obvious, and protest would give it dignity.

      • 3
        1

        SJ
        …It was so obvious….
        Not really with so many believing so may tales. Otherwise how did 6.9 vote. In fact once I heard someone say “It is correct because it was on the computer” forgetting all depended on the data fed in by some nincompoop in the Govt Dept.

    • 0
      0

      My View,
      .
      any civilized country would stand against repeated lies being spread by the state.

      However, for some reasons, nobody among the academics (University dons and other professionals) seem waking up from their long slumber . Also stay passive and indifferent is equally a crime act.
      :
      In Germany, Dr Merkel never took the lead of spreading anything to air at the time, COVID was hugely hit to the nation. Only experts in virology added public statements. Her steps contained the virus being not spread however, there are no such media giants that spread lies about her or boasted about her…. a leader who is governing this country for the last 16 years… is held yet today as MUTTI der Nation (mother of nation).
      :
      Our country, rhetorics of hambantota idiots misled and are misleading the nation yet today. I think MEDIA should be blamed for all the mess.

  • 7
    1

    In a Parliamentary democracy, the Prime Minister is only the first among the equals.

    Could we say the same in an executive Presidential system?- the president is the first among his cabinet including the Prime Minister.

  • 5
    2

    A timely worthy article for Sri Lankans including me to spend just a few minutes.

    • 1
      3

      So, the article is worth just a few minutes of your time!

      • 3
        1

        Spending at least few minutes is much better than zero time because most of Sri Lankans do not spend even a minute to think about what is truth and what is fake.

  • 4
    0

    Is it “Ego” or “Power Hunger” that has brought this country down to this level? In Sri Lanka it’s not just simple Power Hunger that’s being displayed, it’s also due to the want of the rulers to protect themselves from the grip of Justice for all the illegal acts done by them in the past when there were in power. This is clearly evidenced in the recent “nidos kota nidahas” judgements given by the courts – mostly on cases filed by the current Chief Justice who was then the Attorney General and also holding persons under PTA in the disguise of terrorism protection. Sri Lanka today has become similar to a dictatorship in Africa where law and order are in the hands of one person or a small group of persons who use it for their own personal benefit and survival. Even the killing of a gang leader yesterday, which was predicted in a tweet ahead of the killing done by the police clearly shows that the ministers Sarath Weerasekera and Dilum Amunugama are two bulls of the same breed under whom racism, thuggery, threats and illegal arrests are happening. When are we going to open our eyes and see the truth?

  • 4
    7

    This type of articles misdirects the innocents. These are the ones kept Lanka on the wheel of SLFP-UNP-SLFP-UNP cycles. It is telling the Old King and Royals were good until they got the power. First, that is wrong assumption as Royal’s father opportunistically gave up UNP and run away with Solomon West Dias Ridgeway just only for power. There was no morality in Solomon for one to follow him too anywhere. The royals’ princes killed Thajudeen not for power but for woman. The Patriarch stated his rampage join JVP. Then killed his girlfriend and then the hitmen. He appeared for JVP girls for sex. Went to UNCHR against Vaalaiththodam. It is not ego corrupting the family. What part of this essay is explaining the behavior of the Patriarch? Now he has approached Ranil to appear for him in the press, with the name of Covid-19. By gene that prodigy is the worst filth anybody could have brought to any stage like this. The essay naively trying to prove the hell rotten Royals were angels until May 2009, and they are misbehaving only after that. From the first crook Don Stephen to until now, other than Dudley, no one came to power was decent, human beings. Chandrika was different until JR killed Vijaya. But after that she to returned to her original family.

  • 2
    1

    Keeping quiet on our experiences make us passive perpetrators.
    Speaks for itself; speaks for a good majority of our Majority.

  • 2
    0

    This sycophancy culture has made our democracy indistinguishable from autocracy.
    Party leader commands slavish obedience of our representatives and the democracy we are accustomed to is a power play between party leaders, all others being candle holders. Solution for any serious issue or problem is the opinion of the party leader. He/she is the cleverest economist. Leader of the ruling party is not only a de facto autocrat but de jure dictator as per the Constitution. – our representatives are constitutionally denied the right to express themselves or vote according to conscience.
    That is why I don’t give a damn over this ‘ so and so is a dictator ‘ and ‘impending threat of dictatorship’.

    Soma

    • 1
      4

      Somu,
      You had your time of the life with Vaalaththodam & Ranil. Those donkeys resigned one year earlier than due because they could not handle the government. so, just turn in to a simple Simon. Accept the truth. They both SLFP-UNP gangs need to chased out by people. The royals’ position is that you elected them once so now they the rulers for the rest of the history of Lankawe. But UN says even if elected them, still your sovereignty is with you. It is inalienable from you. So tell me please, you want to accept the Royals position or UN position about your sovereignty? Before the Royal change the constitution to change the election laws and make them permanent emperors, guide Buddhist Sinhalese of how to get the lost power back again and write a new suitable constitution and restart all over. Whatever can happen in Lankawe, but Tamils wants justice from Rowdy Aanduwa who keep charging conditions and election laws to make them dictators. Viyathmaha Sinhala Intellectuals, the stage spieces on the earth suking the royal bums.

    • 3
      0

      soman

      “all others being candle holders.”

      We have a better phrase for it, ” b***s carriers”
      Seriously when did you start distancing yourself from the clan?

      • 0
        1

        NV
        What clan?
        Read my comment again.

        Soma

  • 4
    1

    Though I am not articulate as this writer people can’t blame me for not trying. Harendra you being a vastly experienced Pediatrician/ healer, (with years of experience behind you ) would have seen children maturing into adults and the defining role of Ego,self esteem and arrogance in their own personality which again is influenced by nature and nurture. This message is not just for our politicians but for those who blindly follow as well comment here.

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