Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Arrogance: a Barrier to Leadership

Marshall Goldsmith, life-long leadership development coach and commentator, suggested in a LinkedIn post this year that the "number one sign that someone isn’t a great leader" is leader arrogance.

Whereas support from your boss will help your department build leaders (or CEO support will build organisational leadership), leader arrogance does the reverse. It undermines leadership: it shuts people down.

So when organisational leaders act as if they are "perfect and tells everyone else they need to improve[,] this is a sure sign that the leader isn’t great. Worse yet, this behavior can be copied at every level of management. Every level then points out how the level below it needs to change. The end result: No one gets much better" (Goldsmith, 2016). 

The reason this is so bad? 

Because it means the leader is the only one with 'the answers'. Probably with ALL 'the answers'. Arrogance consolidates power, critical thinking, solutions and expertise in one person: the boss.

In the boss's eyes, everyone other than themselves delivers shades of wrong.

That's how we build mediocre organisations which either fail, or which don't reach their potential. They are full of get group think and 'Yes men'. 

And that leads to shut down: passive followers (Daft, 2008).




  1. Thanks Sam..
    For more reading on this topic, and other reasons why some leaders just good, while a few are GREAT, I can heartily recommend James Collins book, Good To Great.

    Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...and Others Don't

    So while we're on the topic.. where do you think The Donald fits on The Leadership Arrogance and Narcissism Scale? :-)

  2. Yes, Good to Great is a really useful book. As is the first one, Built to Last.

    Tough question. Without actually knowing the man, I would assume a high:high rating on that punnet chart!!


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