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No Ego: How to Cut The Cost of Workplace Drama 

No Ego: How to Cut The Cost of Workplace Drama 
Posted on Wednesday, March 28, 2018 by Cy Wakeman
Leadership-01.jpgCy Wakeman, is a dynamic international keynote speaker, business consultant, New York Times bestselling author, and global thought leader with over 25 years experience cultivating a revolutionary new approach to leadership. 


Grounded in reality, Wakeman’s philosophy has helped organizations and individuals all over the world learn to ditch the drama and turn excuses into results. Cy is the keynote speaker at our upcoming Vision 2018 conferences in San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Chicago. This is her first blog post in our reality-based leadership series. 

Your company is wasting a lot of time on drama—according to my estimate, as much as 2.5 hours per employee every day.

I know what you’re thinking, “2.5 hours of drama per employee per day? I just don’t see that in my organization.”

That is because when most people hear the word “drama,” it conjures up pictures of a few highly emotional employees, heated team discussions and arguments, or heated watercooler conversations. But drama is way more than workplace confrontations. Let’s get into what workplace drama really is and how you can start implementing a better way to work, drama free!

What is workplace drama?

My workplace drama definition includes anything that creates what I call “emotional waste,” mentally wasteful thought processes or unproductive behaviors that keep leaders or their teams from delivering the highest level of results. Drama includes complaining, judging, creating stories, gossiping, blaming, jumping to conclusions, meddling in others’ business, and simply put: arguing with reality. 

Hours of productivity wasted

Earlier in my career, as revealed in my first book, Reality-Based Leadership, I discovered the average employee spent two hours per day in drama. I sought to further validate and update this research, and partnering with the Kantar Futures Company in 2015, we surveyed 800 leaders from more than 100 organizations that the time spent in drama increased to 2.5 hours per day, per employee. Curious where this time is spent? Check to see if any of this sounds familiar: 

Sources of Drama graphic only - SIMPLE (1).png

32% – Addressing Ego Behaviors. These include your daily, “Got a minute?” conversations, which often turn into 45 minutes of time exhausted in mitigating workplace gossip, scorekeeping, and the energy invested in soothing employee defensiveness to feedback, resolving hurt feelings and misinterpretations.

23% – Increasing accountability. This includes a leader’s time coaching up employees who blame their circumstances (not their efforts) for their lack of results, dealing with lack of ownership for their outcomes and working to improve employee resilience to overcome daily obstacles.   

14% – Gaining employee buy-in to organizational strategies. Leaders spend tremendous energy managing poor employee attitudes about things that can’t be changed and cajoling for buy-in (which shouldn’t be optional) instead of focusing energy on creating the future.

13% – Overcoming resistance to change. Many leaders believe the myth that “change is hard.” Research shows us that change is only hard for the unready. Thus, many leaders are worn out from endless attempts to convince employees to try new approaches and bargaining to get people on board with changes in the organization.

8% – Working to engage employees. Engagement, much like happiness, is a choice. Furthermore, I’ve found that accountability, not engagement, drives results. Efforts to engage employees (who are choosing not to be engaged) by using perks creates entitlement.

Now that you see the breakdown, I’m sure you’re not as surprised that 2.5 hours are spent checking off the above workplace drama to-do lists. 

The ego is to blame

While ego behaviors show up in a category all their own, the ego is the true genesis of workplace drama. How is the ego different from confidence?

  • Confidence – Is to have faith in your own abilities and believe in yourself.
  • Ego – Unlike confidence, the ego operates out of self-interest.It seeks approval, accolades and validation at all costs in order to be seen as “right”.

Ego is resistant to feedback and assigns motive where there isn’t any. Many leaders have come to accept a workplace so full of drama that it’s seen as a normal cost of doing business. But I believe drama is both avoidable and has a real negative financial impact. It leads to lost productivity (2.5 hours, per headcount, per day!), peace and happiness.

Happiness isn’t your job

Historically, leaders have been told their role is to inspire, to motivate and engage their teams. But as a therapist, I know from behavioral science that people make their own choices about motivation and inspiration, so for leaders, employee happiness and engagement is an impossible responsibility. I believe the modern leader’s role is to help employees eliminate drama (emotional waste) by facilitating good mental processes. It’s a game-changing approach that relieves leaders of the burden of coming up with all the answers. As these mental processes are hardwired, employees begin to self-manage, become more productive, and as a result, understand the connection to accountable choices, their mindset and the results they deliver.  

Drama is more than visible squabbles and emotional outbursts at work. While there is no lack of leadership and HR training, tools and techniques available, it hasn’t dealt with the root causes of emotional waste. The Vision 2018 Conferences will feature a special keynote and tools workshop that will reveal practical tools you can actually use to bypass egos, eliminate emotional waste and recapture the nearly 816 hours per year, per headcount, and upcycle it into productivity and results. Are you ready and willing to call your teams to greatness and shift energy from “why we can’t” into “how we could?” There is a modern workplace that thrives beyond ego. I can’t wait to meet you there.

Cy Wakeman is the keynote speaker for the 2018 Businessolver Vision Conferences. She is a Drama Researcher and New York Times Bestselling author. Her latest book is No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement and Deliver Big Results.

Want to learn how to ditch the drama and gain back those countless wasted hours of productivity at your organization? Join us and Cy at Vision 2018! Register below.