Quiz: Are You Hiring and Breeding Greedy and Selfish Employees?

For those managers worried they are staffing their teams with a bunch of jerks, we have this handy quiz! Answer truthfully and learn if you are a leader of obnoxious superstars.

Quiz: Are You Hiring and Breeding Greedy and Selfish Employees?

EGOS Survey (Evaluation Gauge for Obnoxious Superstars)


Answer true or false to each statement below. The people who get ahead at my workplace:

  1. say “we” but think “me.”
  2. see their peers as competitors, even “the enemy.”
  3. remove subordinates’ names from good work before passing it up the chain.
  4. belittle others’ triumphs and successes.
  5. hoard their ideas because, after all, there is no reward for sharing them with colleagues.
  6. are chronic credit hogs.
  7. stomp on others on the way to the top.
  8. often ask for help from colleagues but rarely return the favor.
  9. are world-class backstabbers, remarkably adept at destroying the reputations of peers, subordinates, and bosses whom they see as competitors.
  10. stockpile resources and won’t share, no matter how badly others need them.
  11. routinely rip apart colleagues–not just their ideas, but their reputations and self-confidence, too.
  12. are such all-star ass-kissers that their superiors adore them, but they are despised by peers and subordinates.
  13. negotiate for more and more goodies for themselves but never go to bat for others.
  14. conveniently “forget” to invite colleagues to high-profile meetings.
  15. do what is best for themselves first and rarely what is best for their team or the organization.
  16. say nice things to their bosses’ faces but rip them to shreds behind their backs.
  17. don’t waste time teaching or mentoring others.
  18. are black holes of information: it only goes in, never out to colleagues.
  19. insist on being “in the loop” but don’t return the favor.
  20. live the 30 Rock mantra–“I’m going to get mine!”

Scoring the EGOS

Add up the number of statements that you marked as true. This isn’t a scientifically validated test, but here is how I would describe your workplace:

0 to 4: Help others succeed or get the hell out. If you are telling the truth, your workplace selects and breeds unselfish stars, and reforms (or drives out) selfish creeps.


5 to 10: Help others succeed, but watch your back. Your workplace is at the borderline between anointing collaborative versus selfish stars. People collaborate and there are rewards for doing so, but enough selfish behavior happens that anointed stars grab goodies and credit for themselves and protect themselves against getting screwed–especially by their most selfish and devious coworkers.

11 to 15: Watch out for number one, otherwise you are screwed. Your people are playing a competitive, “I win, you lose” game every day. Selfishness and backstabbing abound, and collaborators are crushed by the system. Even the most naturally cooperative people learn to become selfish and do a bit of backstabbing in such places, otherwise survival is impossible.

16 to 20: Kill or be killed. You are in a dog-eat-dog world where the only way for people to get ahead is to treat their coworkers as enemies and to crush their spirits and reputations every chance they get. No one lasts long in such a place without becoming an overbearing and selfish jerk who screws colleagues at every turn.


Are You Working With Energizers or Rotten Apples? Read the article

This is an excerpt from GOOD BOSS, BAD BOSS: How to Be the Best … and Learn from the Worst by Robert I. Sutton, PhD. Copyright © 2010 by Robert Sutton. Reprinted by permission of Business Plus, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

[Image courtesy of NBC]


About the author

Robert Sutton is Professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford and a Professor of Organizational Behavior, by courtesy, at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Sutton studies innovation, leaders and bosses, evidence-based management, the links between knowledge and organizational action, and workplace civility