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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Arrogance and Leadership Don't Mix

Arrogant leaders are by nature self centered. They believe their success is because of their own abilities and qualities. They are quick to point out the mistakes of others and rarely take the blame for anything that goes wrong. They are project killers because of their poor listening skills and their inability to see beyond themselves and their narrow views. They know best, and find it burdensome to give others the stage. Challenge them or try to draw them into a debate and watch out! You will be quickly labeled as inflexible and unwilling to accept “what is best”.

In Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” he found through surveys that humble leadership (opposite of arrogance) was one of the many leadership traits that contributed to the long-term success of organizations. Humble leaders get involved, are willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, and have high self-esteem. They have high moral values, which causes them to be centered on doing things right for the right reasons. They energize others, and believe their talents are a gift to be kept in perspective both in the work place and in their personal lives.

Note: This doesn’t always apply, but you would be surprised. Look at what the arrogant leader and the humble leader drive to work. That can tell you a lot about who they are and the image they are trying to portray.

One of the things we know is that leaders can’t effectively lead if they don’t know what is going on. A telltale sign of the arrogant leader is they don’t care about the details. That is because details are beneath them. They also believe that execution is beneath them. They are the grand strategist and don’t have time to get involved in the details. They are interested in headlines, not deadlines. Serving the greater good takes a back seat to serving their own self interests.

Another trait you might see is that arrogant leaders are threatened by the “good” leaders. They fear the good leader’s success and often view them as weak and ineffective (envy is a four letter word). In fact, many arrogant leaders see humility and attentiveness in others as a character flaw. We know by observation that the arrogant leaders are the ones with the weak character, the ones with the poor communication skills, and are the ones with the low self esteem. The arrogant leader’s weaknesses are easy to spot. They don’t fool anybody but themselves. Remember the CEOs of Enron, MCI/WorldCom? At one time they were arrogant, now they are in prison.

Emotional Outburst #1 - Arrogant leaders are organizational pariahs, and are terrible project managers.

A leader that motivates and inspires has to be visible, informed, and respected. Like any good engineer knows, you sometimes have to get your hands dirty to solve problems and gain the respect of the people doing the work.

An arrogant leader is the opposite of a servant leader. Whether they wear a skirt or a suit they are inhibitors to organizational excellence and their thirst for power destroys team synergy and employee morale.

We can sum up this type of behavior in one word...Arrogance -

As taken from the Inner Frontier

"ARROGANCE - Those to whom much has been given sometimes suffer from arrogance; or rather the people around them suffer. Arrogance is doubly a pity, because the talents of the arrogant serve primarily themselves. The arrogant assumes his views and opinions are The Truth. In arrogance, natural confidence goes sadly awry. Rather than the self-assurance born of knowing his own strengths and limitations, arrogance admits no limits. The arrogant brooks no weakness in himself and may even secretly rejoice to find flaws in others. But imperfections are inherent in being human, so the arrogant, like everyone else, always has feet of clay, however well hidden they may be. Fearing exposure, haughtiness forms a hard shell masking inner emptiness."

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