“The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos.” –
Whatever the nature of your institution or organization, as a leader, you will have to interact with a wide variety of people. A few are helpful, some unhelpful and most are simply looking for their own momentary interests, coming and going from your life like clouds across the sky.
However among the many who enter your office there will be those who suffer from a physical need to enter the leaders space simply because their ego demands attention or they believe they have some right to special favor from the leader.
They will have achieved their current standing in the past, due to some mysterious favor by a previous administration , intervention by an Elected Poltician for them personally or for some group they belong to, or by inheriting it in some way. However they attained their current status their usefulness to the advancement of the institution is often hard to see from your office.
Make no mistake these people will have their followers, and if you listen to their versions of reality, the Universe seeks advice from them on a regular basis on everything, from how to replicate DNA, to which stars should explode into super novas next.
Perhaps because they have had special favors all their lives these individuals believe they are entitled to special treatment, right now or else! If you have ever explored the “or else” part you will find it takes the form of a tantrum.
If they are employees then the special treatments they want will be expected to cover everything from car parking, working hours, paid holidays (or as they will probably term them sabbaticals), salary – even office locations. Their special deals will also be expected to extend to their followers, since they build clans around themselves.
If they are external to your organization then they will have some special undefined relationship with key stakeholders in your organization or board or with Elected Politicians.
The first thing to clarify is that there are no special favors. To do so is unfair to all the employees or stakeholders who are abiding by the regulations.
If your organization works in an area in which subjective opinion rules rather than objective fact then you will be blessed with a lot of these glass egos. The disputes between Egos in these types of fields (politics, academia, economics, media, tv, music, art and of course opera!) are the stuff of legend.
The key to dealing with these kinds of people is to be strict and cite that to do otherwise would be unfair to all the others who abide by the rules. You will suffer the temper tantrum when you say no but after that they will respect you. Actually these people desire to have clear boundaries of what is possible and what is not possible – their problem is that too many people have treated them as special cases.
If you are cursed with lots of opinion givers – then combine them all into a think tank that meets once a quarter and submits a report of suggested actions. Typically such a group will spend so long arguing with each other that very little will come to disturb you.