Is Your Managerial Ego Too Big?

Overlords of their own fiefdoms and overseers of inflated budgets and staffs, these type of managers can kill your company. Here's what every leader needs to know to take down the takeover artists.
Source: Illustration Š The Ispot.com/Brian Stauffer

Principalities are great for stamp collectors. They are less appealing when they exist inside your company, thanks to the manager or staffer who has built his or her own private Luxembourg.

It's a phenomenon known in the management trade as "empire building": an urge to create fiefdoms with pumped-up staffs and budgets that match the inflated ego of the perpetrator--and it can sabotage your team, bottom line and worse.

"It can kill the company," says Mark Faust, a growth and turnaround specialist at Cincinnati-based Echelon Management International and author of Growth or Bust! "You're lucky if it's just reducing the potential of the company by 20 or 30 percent, but it could be a lot more. It is one of the greatest constraining factors on U.S. business."

Empire builders don't care about that. Their goal is to increase their personal power and stature by amassing departments, information and head count. They measure their worth by the heft and gleam of their domain. It's a little like the peacock strutting his Technicolor tail for the females, says Art Markman, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin who runs the

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