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Organizational Culture versus Personal EGO

"Knowing the difference is half the battle!"

What is the difference between a positive company culture and a company ego? Is there a difference? I have been pondering these questions over the past week. What prompted these questions was hearing how a chief officer had discussed with a company officer that their company needed to check their ego. As typical with most shift exchanges, they warrant discussions, thoughts, and ideas at length with my counterpart at our company. The question I posed in our conversation is, "Are we developing a positive culture within our company, or are we building up egos that could be viewed as unfavorable?"


In our conversation, it quickly became evident that we strive to develop a company culture of excellence. Defining excellence, in our case, is establishing that we set attainable goals and remain humble. The first goal is to ensure our crew goes home safely. Our second goal focuses on a high level of service delivery to our customers. Finally, as a company and individually, we employ humility to learn from our mistakes and failures that do occur.


In some opinions, we are developing a culture with an ego of superiority. It is often said that the team is only as strong as its weakest member. I'm afraid I must disagree with this sentiment. As a team, we need to foster the importance of sharing the knowledge and experiences of our craft. Why is this important? It is essential because the team can only move as fast as its slowest member. We owe it to one another to understand each other's strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly, to only utilize this sensitive information constructively and positively to improve overall performance. When we embrace this, it shows our ability to place our ego to the side for everyone's benefit.


How do you define culture? Of course, we can regurgitate definitions encountered in many articles, lectures, and classes. Battalion Chief Wind (retired) simplified the intention for me, saying that it is a combination of behavior and attitude that a given group applies. We all have and will encounter cultures that are good and bad. Within a company, it is likely to experience one or more subcultures that are not fully invested in the primary culture.


How do you define ego? Answering this question could likely be more difficult due to negative connotations. Essentially, ego is one's self-esteem or self-importance. Members of a company will probably believe their company is more important than another.


Written by Charles J. Dickinson,

Member - NEPA Consulting LLC,

President - IAFF Local F169

Captain - Picatinny Arsenal Fire Department

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