How to Overcome Arrogance
All that’s ugly in leadership begins with arrogance.
You might be arrogant if you:
- Look down your nose on those you serve. Arrogance views others as burdens and irritations.
- Beat yourself up over little mistakes. Arrogance can’t learn from failure, because failure is not an option for pomposity.
- Feel anger as a first response to human frailty.
- Secretly manipulate, rather than openly influence. Arrogance has a personal agenda. Influence seeks the highest good of organizations and individuals.
- Help from a high tower of superiority. You’re arrogant if giving help puffs you up, but receiving help is out of the question.
- Cheat to win. Saving face makes integrity a convenience, not a necessity.
- Consider people as objects to be used for personal gain.
- Reject the idea of dependence and interdependence and choose to stand aloof.
- Criticize first and ask questions never.
- Respond with ungratefulness. Entitlement robs arrogance of gratitude.
- Receiving value comes before giving value.
- View leadership as entitlement, not opportunity to serve.
- ‘Get it’ and others don’t. Arrogance is always ‘right’.
- Push back with explanations, justifications, and excuses when receiving tough feedback. If you want to see a person’s character, give them tough feedback.
- Never seek feedback. Giving feedback is the only option for arrogance.
- Your world is best explained with ‘I, me, and mine’.
The idea that you can overcome arrogance is an expression of arrogance.
Don’t try to overcome arrogance. You can’t stop that puffy feeling in your chest when respected leaders respect you. It just happens.
The practices of humility are the only cure for arrogance.
In my twenties an elderly gentleman complimented me on my choice of clothing. I gave him a short lesson on style. I’m embarrassed by that today. Humility says thank you. Arrogance gives a lesson.
Notice your arrogance and respond with humility.
How might leaders overcome arrogance?
A really practical post. Thank you Dan. I now understand why ego coaching is needed to overcome arrogance and how arrogance has different faces!
Thanks Tesse. I hadn’t thought of using language like “arrogance has different faces.” It opens a new way of thinking. Someone recently asked me, “how to overcome arrogance.” The best I can think is to practice humility. Cheers
This is one of those that should probably be read three or four times. Lots of good thoughts and anchor points. Maybe arrogance is also thinking that you can do things alone more better faster than working as a team, but I am guessing most readers know the shortcomings of that approach.
Maybe more teamwork is one of the cures for it. Maybe a focus on really helping others is another. But is being self-critical arrogance? Is back-checking one’s own behavior and finding that one could have made better choices? Your Number 2 kind of put me a bit off balance.
We’re working up plans to address Selfless Leadership in a way to generate the behaviors of competition and “team arrogance” in not sharing information and resources and then using those choices to reframe better individual and team alternatives. The thinking is if that we can CATCH people behaving in a selfish and non-serving way, we can also get them to consider alternatives that they generate.
Your list offers some good “jumping off” ideas, so thanks again, my friend.
Thanks Dr. Scott. The idea of team work is important. It takes humility to enter into inter-dependent relationships. Humility is essential.
Regarding #2. I could be off base. My thought is about obsessing over our mistakes. I remember playing basketball in high school and getting so angry when I missed a shot. I think the subtle message of that kind of anger is ‘you shouldn’t miss shots.’ That seems arrogant to me.
I appreciate your thought about being self-critical. It takes humility to investigate how we went wrong and how we might do better next time.
Realising that arrogance is a useless emotion that servers no one, not even self. Telling yourself the above whenever the ego rises. Eventually it weakens it’s dominion over self.
I find it difficult to determine the difference between arrogance and insecurity in the workplace. They both promote the self over the team, and many of the examples above could be cross applied. In my 20s, much of what looked like arrogance was insecurity and lack of knowledge. I see the same in younger leaders now. Humility still seems to be a good counter. Any others?
Sometimes we do not know who we really are because we do not know the meaning of the words that describe our real character. Your description of what arrogance is has shown me how arrogant I have been. I need help!
Thanks for the action items Dan. “Humility says thank you. Arrogance gives a lesson.” “If you want to see a person’s character, give them tough feedback.”
I like that you state leadership is an opportunity to serve…and I believe it is possible that you can accidentally exhibit arrogance while having positive intentionality (like being an accidental diminisher) – and that humility is the great equalizer.
Thanks for sharing
I struggle to be right sized. Coming from hiding, insecurity through learning confidence into brainy smurf being thrown out of the village.