Book Me For A Speech

My Writing and Ranting

Press Room

Good Books

« Layoffs: One Deep Cut Versus Lots of Little Cuts | Main | The Asshole and Umpire »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Troy Steinmetz

Ohh, fun topic. I'm a bit late here, but here are my thoughts.

Building on Kevin's idea, perhaps we call him/her the SPEEDer (Selfish Primadonna Everyone Else Despises).

You might have SPEED traps (ways you catch/identify SPEEDers). Watch out for people who:
-Overstate their contribution to team projects
-Insist on being "in the loop" but don't return the favor
-Bail on a project if it looks like it might fail

and managers who:
-Sit in on every important meetings, even if their subordinate can handle it. (The Savior Complex)
-Scrub subordinates names from their work before passing it up the chain
-Are a black-hole of information. Information only goes in, never out from every direction

You could have SPEEDing tickets (how does that kind of behavior get penalized?):
-Poor results in 360 reviews
-Few allies when consensus is needed

How as an organization can you put up and enforce SPEED limits? What are the "school zones" in your organization you MOST need to protect from SPEEDers?

justin eckrich

what about excess inventory?

or surplus inventory?

damaged goods?


ex back

"organizations that emphasize the differences between the very best versus the "merely" competent and reliable employees may do a better job of holding on to the stars, but often undermine overall team and organizational performance"

I wonder if this applies to nations?

i think this is a bit more dificult to compare.
i don`t think its that easy.

Blue Girl

The Selfish Superstar Inventory:

I got married to get ahead.

I go to church to get ahead.

I often/always dream about money.

Favorite color: ice blue;
Favorite sport: ice hockey;
Favorite singer: Vanilla Ice;
Favorite food: ice cream, etc.

I am the emperor, always wearing new clothes.

My management style is bulldozer.

I am master of the convoluted and illogical, making logical retorts impossible.

I enjoy hurting you in your pocketbook.

I remind you that I am the boss in the body of every memo.


I like what you are planning to do maybe these will help. I find it is a toxic culture that nurtures the behaviour of teams or is it the other way around? Anyway try these.

Go ahead surround yourself with sheep, there is no reason to change if you continue to think nothing is wrong.
We only hire and reward people who say "yes" with a "can do attitude". Sounds like a good thing right? Except Surrounding one self with "yes" people means there is no challenge of what is right/wrong and there is no growth or learning when you are never challenged with diverse points of view. (You won't find anything but sheep)

Make sure you micromanage, so employees can't do the right thing without an act of congress. Then you can complain you are hostage to a bunch of deadwood subordinates who won't even order a pen until you approve it.

Make sure you only reward success. Make sure safety is your number one priority. In other words: If we set any goals at all, we set them so low that we virtually have no chance of failing to achieve those goals. Don't swing for the fences, just try not to strike out. Everyone stays in their comfort zone and just accepts whatever comes their way, after all that is the safest play.

Make sure you value under- achievers (don't say that you do, make sure your actions say it) When you find you are being asked to do someone else's tasks because the other person failed, what is your motivation to do it better? Especially when that person has been there twice as long as you. Nothing speaks louder: Worthlessness is what is valued here. Failing to adequately hold people accountable and allowing the wrong people to stay in key positions, hurts everyone.

Make sure you take the "extra" out of ordinary. Leadership assumes that leaders are people who are eager to learn. Make sure you don't pay for any training nor seminars. It will be hard to find someone to mentor you hence you won't be given opportunities to grow yourself both professionally or personally here.

Regarding buzz kill, Have you ever seen any leaders kill a mood without saying a word, I have. Have you ever seen anyone who can light up a room with a smile, I have. Behaviors of narcissism and passive-aggressive leads to a toxic culture void of a team spirit. Make a policy of "We only hire mean-spirited leaders." i.e. We hire managers like us.


How about simplifying ARSE to just ASS - "Asshole Self-Survey"

Ed Markey

In the spirit of the ARSE test:

-- I don't like it when others challenge my area of expertise.

-- I'm frustrated when I have to justify my decisions and actions to less competent co-workers.

-- I usually feel like I've got to do everything myself.

-- I take it as a personal affront when meetings start without me, even if I'm late.

-- I'm the one who assigns the follow-up "action items" for others.

-- I've earned the last look, last word, last say on any project I'm involved with.

-- Others may have points of view, but ultimately I expect people to support my ideas.

-- Even though it's a team effort, my name should be on the project.

-- If a project fails, I don't feel bad if my part of it was successful.

Anything there?


woops, i.e.: s.h.i.t


hmmm what about:

selfish/self obsessed


in need of



Here is a suggestion for your SSI project.

"Pretty Things for Pretty People".

Because, in organizations where selfish “Super Stars” are promoted etc… I call them the “Pretty People” and the rest of us are just the workers.


How about I.A.M. (It's all about me)?

Ed Markey

This comment is from Lakers coach Phil Jackson last night, after his team won the NBA championship. He was talking about the maturation of Kobe Bryant, a one-time selfish star who has grown into a leader.

"There was a point in Kobe's [early career] when we sat together and watched tape," Jackson said. "I wanted him to understand his impact on the game a little bit and my feeling about his impact on the game. We had a game in Toronto, and he had gotten hooked up with Vince Carter in the middle of the fourth quarter and they kind of exchanged baskets, and I thought it took our team out of their team play, and the game was much harder than it should have been. So I talked to him a little bit about leadership and his ability to be a leader, and he said, 'I'm ready to be a captain right now.' And I said, 'But no one is ready to follow you.' He was 22 at the time. He was a young guy.

"In those years that have ensued, he's learned how to become a leader in a way in which people want to follow him. And I think that's really important for him to have learned that, because he knew that he had to give to get back in return. He's become a giver rather than just a guy that's a demanding leader, and that's been great for him and great to watch."


Hello Professor Sutton,

An acronym would be a take on the earlier ARSE

SSPARSE - it has a ring to it like ARSE.

Selfish Superstar Primadonna Asshole Rating Self Exam.

I have been reading your posts recently and keep going back to the posts of 'indifference' and not letting them touch your soul.

Thank you.



I don't know whether this is helpful to your quiz in anyway (maybe not) but it is certainly relevant to the topic. I have recently been watching the latest season of The Apprentice (UK edition with Alan Sugar, not Donald Trump) and I was struck by the incredible difference in quality of the results for the final task.

I was shocked by the magnitude of the effect, when teams were made from previously fired members and there was no longer internal competition. Suddenly, previous personality clashes were forgotten, the atmosphere was lighter and more humorous, people suggested ideas but were much more able to let them go if shown to be unworkable. Instead of the usual comedy of errors, we saw the teams achieve in three days what professionals in the industry said would take them months to do. When asked whether their leader had been any good by Sir Alan in the boardroom, previously backstabbing and badmouthing candidates were falling over themselves to shower their team leaders with heartfelt praise.

It all made me a touch nauseous.


Hi Professor Sutton,

What an awesome endeavor! My thought here is a little less tangible, a bit more theoretical: but I would encourage this endeavor to not literally be about asking questions about the individual, but rather about their view on what optimal teams/organizations are.

If you ask someone, "are you a jerk to your peers," only the ridiculously off-the-charters are going to actually respond yes. And the relatively capability of the quiz to score the propensity of the individual to be a selfish superstar may not be that great.

I think you structure the quiz to ask the individual about their views on 2 things:

1) What is the best way for decisions to be made in a team/org?

2) What is the best way for conflict to be handled in a team/org?

What I think you will find is that selfish superstars are obsessed with hierarchical and autocratic decision-making. In other words, in their minds, getting promoted is a means of controlling decisions and therefore controlling people.

On the other hand, the self-actualized superstar (is this Jim Collins' Level 5?) sees progress and activity outside of him/herself. This individual will talk about the need for discussion and broad input in decision-making. They'll talk about conflict being resolved through communication and facilitation. They'll talk about leadership as empowering people, not controlling them.

People are always weird when they take a survey about themselves - I think your responses might be skewed with this approach. I'd suggest testing the individual's approach to organizational problems and using that to infer the selfishness vs. self-actualization of the individual.

Jason Yip

"organizations that emphasize the differences between the very best versus the "merely" competent and reliable employees may do a better job of holding on to the stars, but often undermine overall team and organizational performance"

I wonder if this applies to nations?


Couple of suggestions that might fit:

-Schedules conference calls to hear themselves talk

-Conveniently forgets to invite others to high profile meetings (It got lost in the Exchange mail!)

-Belittles subordinates' points in front of superiors to make themselves sound like Einstein

-A stern belief that the only way to get ahead is from a tragic failure by someone else

-Believe in the 30 Rock mantra, "I'm going to get mine!"

The comments to this entry are closed.

Asshole Survival

Scaling Up

Good Boss Bad Boss

No Asshole Rule

Hard Facts

Weird Ideas

Knowing -Doing Gap

The No Asshole Rule:Articles and Stories