Avoiding the Putrid Beast Destroying Leaders
Pride is good. For example, “Have some pride” and “Take pride in your work.”
Arrogant pride, however, represents the dark, blinding, deceptive underbelly of leadership. Arrogant pride drives leaders to gather in protective huddles of pseudo-invincibility where stepping on others is smugly applauded and lifting others is foolish weakness.
Filthy dark festering pride drives outrageous salaries, underhanded dealings, and deceptive accounting practices. What about employee handbooks and HR guidelines intentionally vague or confusing so they can be used to accomplish any leader’s personal agenda?
The danger of healthy pride is its putrid ravenous brother lives one step across the border. His name is arrogance.
10 symptoms the ravenous beast has you:
- Flattery – Hateful manipulative speech that creates vulnerability to deceptive self-serving influence.
- Stubborn unwillingness to reconsider. After all, you might look weak!
- Insults, put downs and slanderous speech.
- Sacrificing relationships for power, position, and prestige.
- Refusing to explore options and opinions while scorning those who disagree.
- Name dropping.
- Feelings of untouchable invincibility rooted in power, authority, and possessions.
- Rejecting correction.
Bonus: Pretending to be something you aren’t.
The deepest danger:
When the beast has us, it blinds us. His strangling grip and destructive teeth gnawing on our soul feels delightfully right.
- Service. You serve everyone from the temporary receptionist to the CEO, everyone. Leadership is service.
- Accountability. Find one person who tells you the truth, regardless.
- Love. Always seek the highest good of others.
- Priority. Help others win first. Find your win second.
- Gratitude. Thankfulness lifts others by acknowledging their contributions.
You can be proud of being humble. Anyone have a suggestion for that one?
What symptoms of arrogance lurk in your environment?
How can leaders deal with the ravenous beast?
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Leadership without character is not leadership at all.
Nicely said Dale. Thanks
Leaders dont create followers they create other leaders – Tom Peters
I think this saying helps keep the beast at bay
I would say when the beast grabs you reflect on your values. If you have trouble articulating them reflect on this set provided to me in 1997 by Rob Lebow of the Lebow Group,LLC.
Treat others with uncompromising truth
Lavish trust on your associates
Be receptive to new ideas, regardless of their origin
Take personal risks for the organizations sake
Give credit where credit is due
Do not touch dishonest dollars
Put the interests of others before your own
When we are taught that the truth is not acceptable in ourselves or others, it seems this is what gives more power to ‘the beast’. If we were punished for sharing truth when small, we will grow up to be afraid to tell the truth. We create masks. This has become the socially acceptable ‘norm’ which only serves to make it UNSAFE for people to be themselves. It’s all conditioned. We live in a society where we are conditioned to conform at the expense of truth. We are conditioned to hide who we really ARE in order to be acceptable and fit in to ‘the system’.
It takes a powerful awakening to shake us up enough to even BEGIN to wake up from our conditioned sleep on an individual and society level. It can also be terrifying. As more and more people continue to wake up from this conditioned sleep…as each of us begins to courageously look at our own darkness and allow it to come into the light, we can walk in more freedom. We become more conscious. And our own freedom, no matter how large or small, can become the spark or catalyst of change that helps awaken and free others. I have yet to meet anyone who has been able to do this all at once. I certainly haven’t been able to! 🙂 It’s a little at a time.
I also feel that when we find compassion, even in the smallest amount, from someone who has extended it to us. Then we are also capable of extending much needed compassion to ourselves and others. This might be the key ingredient we all need. The point and power where truth/accountability meets grace. When we begin to shift from trying to avoid but move to accepting the darkness as it arises within. So that we may integrate it.
I recently saw a video on the topic of love. At some point in the video, it said something to the effect that we don’t need to bring the light to darkness so much as we need to bring the darkness to the light. We do this by telling the truth. Telling the truth to ourselves and each other. We also need to make it safe to tell the truth. In many cases, it is not safe. And for those occasions, it takes brave and courageous souls to do it.
Now more then ever we need truth AND grace. And even if we don’t have it all figured out, we can begin modeling it in all the ways ways we can to one another.
I have glimpses of my prideful self but am working on being more humble. So….how do I deal with growing humility? Don’t talk about it! Hard to do when you are ‘proud’ of your accomplishment.
I worked in a company on the management team where one of my peers was a bully (full grown at that). He was the kind of guy that would slug you in the shoulder TOO hard or throw a pencil at a peer in a meeting. Of all the people I ever worked with he was the only guy I ever had shouting matches with (I am not a shouter).
The board never saw it and appointed him CEO. I left and so did a lot of other talented people.
Even when I helped him out he was suspicious and accused me of sandbagging a major turnaround of one of his departments that I had done at his request.
Many people feed this beast by enjoying the career lift that comes with petting it. But beasts always turn and just when you think they are your friend they eat you for lunch.
Beware the beast and his close cousin Narcissism. He (or she) is even worse!
I appreciate the symptoms you have narrated. You have covered almost all symptoms. However, I would provide some more symptoms based on my observation- double talk, blocking, breaking, distorting, delaying informations, available when you are not there etc. They lack integrity in talking. They will please you and demean at the back. They play on informations and issues. They will make issues out of informations by blocking, delaying or distorting it. They are present early in the morning when you are not there, again there are present in evening when you have packed up. They create perception in the eyes of bosses that they are only punctual and concerned about organizations and others are not.
I strongly believe that such ravenous beast can not change their attitude. I do agree that situations and circumstances can suppress such behavior but they will emerge as soon as they will find suitable opportunities. So, leaders should hold them accountable, stop them when they criticize others. Leaders should create culture of transparency in information, promotion, opportunity and relationship building.Generally flatters create perception that they are more close to bosses and bosses like them. So, leaders should get rid of such impression created by others. Others should believe that leaders are fair, honest and do not believe to flatterers. It is about creating environment of trust, transparency and honesty.
You list of symptoms sounds like a description of most politicians, unfortunately.
Proud of being humble? I should think the key is balance and checking in with yourself. Really think about your motives and intentions. Great blog.
Correct me if I am wrong, because I am not currently part of the executive world; but, isn’t integrity in your position the antidote to all of those symptoms? If your priority is integrity, won’t those things all fall away?
I love your list about ways of being that counteract pride and arrogance. I think one of the difficulties in overcoming the ravenous beast is seeing that it has you in the first place.
When I think it’s all about me, that I accomplished something on my own, then I’ve become the big cheese, if only in my own mind. I’m pretty sure Big Cheese is the ravenous beast’s favorite snack food.
It takes a pretty big shift, though, to get enough out of Big Cheese headspace in order to even think about being in service to others or doing any of the other good things on your list.
I have seen this in myself and others. It took a life changing event and a nervous breakdown to recognise “the beast” had me firmly in its grasp. And now on the road to reform, I see him everywhere!
I love the value set that Larry Coppenrath has posted, as many of those are allowing me to turn my life around.
Great work all, and as always, I am learning more and more with each blog.
Reblogged this on Jots & Thoughts and commented:
Distinguishing between the healthy vs. harmful prides.
The deep question, as I see it, is this: whose that is really humble, doesn’t know it. So he can’t be proud of it.
Regards from Spain.
Hi Dan – I wonder if you have read ‘Leadership & Self deception’ by the Arbinger Insitute? I am pretty sure that you would have.
This book changed my leadership life …
I struggle with these issues daily and need to be remind myself not to be complancent lest they grab a hold of me and I become ‘proud of my humility’.
Thanks for a great post.
Leadership and self deception was recently mentioned here. I bought it a couple days ago. It’s really good.
Whenever I hear the word “Politics” in places I’ve worked, I think of this very subject and it grates my ears like someone scratching their nails against a chalkboard. It gives the reference that you have to play the “game” of pride and arrogance in order to get anywhere. I have finally found an organization where I can serve and just be glad to grow. Of course, there’s always that ‘one’ person in the Leadership that brings in the arrogant vibe but sometimes I wonder if that doesn’t have value as well. They sort of provide accountability in reminding us all how we don’t want to be…
Job 38-40…That’s how I remind myself of who I am and what my place is…