Ego and Authority

We bid ourselves to temper our ego, by which we really mean two things: first, to eliminate self-harming actions and thoughts such as pride, covetousness, laziness; second, having eliminated or diminished self-harming, to cultivate a different self-perception based on humility and non-desiring.
But are all these actions and thoughts merely dependent on circumstances, such that pride or assertiveness can sometimes be virtues? Can humility be a bad thing? Here is where we mistake personality for ego. We cannot make progress until we have that minimum of ego we call personality. This is a life-long refinement, but at the same time clearly established in childhood. We cannot undo ego without having one, a mature one, in the first place. From personality we can proceed to work on ego, or begin to undo ego and thereby enhance the virtues (and reduce the vices) of our personality. Our conscious goal is to move our virtues into that non-social realm that psychoanalysis calls the superego.
The leader, administrator, and the social organizer cannot help but project personality on a group. But in this capacity is leadership also a projection of ego? What the person interested in wielding power also ends up doing is projecting not only vices but the superego, their own values and conscience. The values may be benign, but in this power capacity, these values may now be reduced to content for psychological manipulation. The use of power and authority becomes the vehicle for values and beliefs. This is why the abuse of sound principles by institutions and authorities or their representatives is more painful to us than the vices of any given individual whom we do not know.
The true solitary, having worked on the ego, will be able to detect the imposition of authority and the arbitrariness of power in others. Ultimately, this will be recognized in social relations and society itself. Rarely does anyone achieve a position of power without thereby exercising authority. Authority is contrivance. Authority exercised by another is authority removed from oneself.