Finding Real Leadership Power


Humility is real power, arrogance façade.

15 Ways to be an arrogant leader:

  1. Rush. “Important” people don’t have enough time.
  2. Look serious. The more important you are the more serious you look.
  3. Detach. “Arrogance comes from detachment.” Henry Mintzberg.
  4. Take calls or text during meetings. Now we know you’re important. Ooooo!
  5. Know. Act like you know when you don’t. Arrogance makes learning difficult.
  6. Delegate dirty work.
  7. Isolate. Be too good for the “little” people.
  8. Insulate. Create protective environments.
  9. Interrupt.
  10. Blow up. Anger and arrogance are relatives.
  11. Gossip.
  12. Tell don’t ask.
  13. Speak don’t listen.
  14. Complain and blame rather than solve and support.
  15. Surround yourself with groveling yes-men.


Humility requires more confidence than arrogance. Fear makes us pretend we know, when we don’t, for example.

Humility is found, expressed, and nurtured in connecting. Arrogance pushes off; humility invites in. Withdrawal suggests independence; connecting expresses interdependence.

Humility builds trust. Trust fuels leadership. But you can’t trust arrogant people. They reject what’s right for what makes them look good, when necessary.

How to be a powerful humble leader:

  1. Stand your ground where values are concerned. Humble leaders submit to noble values.
  2. Realize you aren’t your title.
  3. Demand excellence from yourself, first.
  4. Call for, and enable excellence. (Emphasis on enable.)
  5. Don’t believe your own press. People aren’t telling you the full truth.
  6. Serve.
  7. Sit at the side not the head.
  8. Brag about others. Fools make others feel they don’t matter.
  9. Say thanks. Gratitude softens arrogance.
  10. Invite feedback.
  11. Ask as well as tell. Curiosity reflects humility. Warning: questions may be control-tools. I confess that I use questions to control conversations and divert attention from myself.
  12. Do the opposite of the arrogant leader list.


Teamwork requires humility. Dennis Perkins wrote: “Into the Storm: Lessons in Teamwork from the Treacherous Sydney to Hobart Ocean Race.” He became a crew member on one of the racing boats. During our conversations, he shared lessons in humility. (6 min. 30 sec.)

How do arrogant leaders behave?

How can leaders develop and/or express humility?