Arrogance is something that we often discuss in the world of leadership. A little bit of arrogance can go a long way in the direction of success, but when overused, arrogance can tear your team apart. The main reason? As a leader, if arrogance is your leadership skill of choice, your team is more than likely feeling devalued, rejected and angry. When I speak in private to team members about their arrogant leaders, they usually shrug and say “It is a waste of my oxygen to mention anything or bring new ideas to the table. He always thinks he has the right and only answer”.
If you are an arrogant leader, these behaviors will be seen by others:
1. You think you have the only answer.
2. You always think you are right and that the rest of the world is wrong. And, your team hears this constantly.
3. You dismiss the ideas of others on your team.
4. You appear aloof and that you don’t really like other people.
5. You pull rank constantly and try to overpower other people.
6. You rarely share credit with others.
7. You don’t take feedback from others as an opportunity to learn or grow. You think you are already masterful at everything.
Here are the signs that your arrogance is tearing your team apart:
1. Team members don’t speak up during meetings or one on one discussions. Why should they? You know it all!
2. Team members work in a robotic fashion. They would never want to come up with an innovative idea, because you will more than likely squash any new ideas.
3. When speaking with team members, they stumble through their words, get flushed and anxious, and they will always back down from their opinion.
4. Team members quit, because they are living in fear. They are afraid they will say the wrong thing, and you would rather be right than keep your top talent in place.
5. Team members are talking about you behind your back. You may not know it, but trust me…they are talking about you behind your back. When a team is not aligned with their leader, and the team is talking about you behind your back, get ready for your productivity, teamwork and bottom line results to fall into a very dark hole.
If you are a leader who is living with arrogance, there are some steps you can take:
1. Most people living with arrogance don’t know it, but you need to hear it if you are. I highly recommend that you commit yourself to getting feedback from your team on an annual basis. I suggest that you bring in a 3rd party who knows nothing about your company to ask about 10 questions of your team and the people who know you. Then, it’s time to sit down and hear what your team has to say about you.
2. Work on opening up your body. This sounds odd, but most arrogant people have facial expressions that send the message they are not open to others. They will look away, turn their back or pretend they are not listening. Sit down with your team members, remove anything that is blocking you from your team, and really listen without all of the sighs and looks that you may usually send.
3. Disclose your shortcomings to your team. Most leaders believe that this will make them appear weak and incompetent to their team members. The opposite is true. When you open up to your team about your shortcomings, your world will change overnight. You don’t have to drag every bone out of the closet, yet it is important to tell your team about some of the feedback you have received and your plan of action. Then, you must act on your plan. Your actions will speak so much more loudly than words.
4. Be a coach…not a know it all. In today’s business world, true leaders are becoming great coaches. With coaching, you will be collaborating with your team on a way to “win”. (
5. Drop the cocky attitude and listen. People who are over the top on arrogance are cocky. This intimidates others. You can be confident and come across as approachable, but not if your goal is to be cocky. There is a very fine line between being confident and being arrogant. If you are arrogant, you are probably very smart and talented, and you don’t need to throw that all over people. Just observe yourself for one week in listening and curiosity mode and do your best to bite your tongue. Watch the responses as you open up, listen and become more curious. Your team will shift if you practice listening and being curious. It just works!