3 Ways to Identify Arrogant Leaders

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I recently heard a great speaker in Atlanta named Clay Scroggins (Author, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge). He made this point:

“Arrogant people don’t ask questions.”

I had to think about that.  Test it against my experience.  See if it was an exaggeration – or could it be so?

He went on to say….”they not only don’t ask you questions, they do not ask themselves questions either.”

Hmmm. Thinking over all the arrogant people I’ve ever met.  List very long. May take a while to conclude.

(a minute passes)

Dang.  I think it’s true!!!

Here are three easy ways to find out if a leader is arrogant…

THE TELL-ASK RATIO:

Count the number of things the leader came to TELL you, compared to the number of open-ended questions they ASKED you.  Anything  above a 3:1 ratio may indicate a problem (just a hunch).

A surrogate for this test would be – how long did they talk relative to how long they listened.  Try this in your next project meeting with your supervisor.

THE DON’T ASK/DON’T KNOW SCAM:

If you think you are working for someone arrogant, take note of how many times they declare things to the organization that they do not actually know to be true.

  1. “We will launch a new product by X.”
  2. “We will have that problem solved by Friday.”
  3. “We will overcome this adversity.” (Just to mention a few possibilities.)

THE KNOW ME/KNOW THEE TEST:

Ask the leader to share one of their most difficult experiences and what they learned from it.  If they can’t think of one, well, you know what that means.

Another version of this test?  Ask them to name your three children at the next company picnic.  If they smile, nervous laugh, and walk away…

3 WAYS TO PRACTICE HUMILITY:

  1. Listen carefully.
  2. Ask inquiring questions.
  3. Know yourself and know your team members.

That’s humility.  And it drives performance.

Serve well.

What are some signs that a leader is arrogant?

How might leaders practice humility?

Cheryl Bachelder is the CEO who led the remarkable turnaround of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, Inc. from 2007-2017.  She is the author of the best-selling book Dare to Serve: How to drive superior results by serving others. She blogs at Serving Performs: http://www.cherylbachelder.com.