Leadership Solutions from Read Solutions Group: Tackling the Derailer of Arrogance

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tackling the Derailer of Arrogance

Why is arrogance a problem? You are successful; you may even be the Managing Director or CEO. Why would you, of all people, need to worry that not being open to feedback, introspection or personal growth could derail your career? The 2003 book, Why CEOs Fail by D.L. Dotlich and P.C. Cairo identifies arrogance - the belief that you're right and everyone else is wrong - as one of the leading causes of executive faillure. If it can bring down whole companies, what effect could it be having on your career?

megaphone.jpgWhat are the behaviors that could lead to derailment? The arrogant leader may be self-confident to the point of making other feel inferior. By limiting or dismissing the input of others, the arrogant leader may miss or discount crucial information. He may seem self-absorbed, aloof and cold, bruising the egos of others on their team. She may been seen as too independent, promoting her own careers and success over others.

How do you change? Change begins with self-awareness. Replay your mental tapes of earlier discussions about your style. Look carefully at the behaviors you portray at home where there may be more direct feedback. Have a 360 assessment done. Watch the reactions of others. Look for signs that your relationships are not what you believe them to be. Challenge your belief that your arrogance has supported your success.

Change requires that you begin to be curious about what others think; that you seek and accept feedback, holding tight against the natural tendency to defend and explain. Consider enlisting a confidant, coach or trusted colleague who can give you objective feedback, and help you assess and monitor your progress.

Look at situations where you've encountered significant roadblocks or failure, and write down the answers to the following questions:

  1. What would your worst critics say contributed to the situations?
  2. What behaviors did you use when you were stuck or close to failure?
  3. What signals did you miss?

listening.jpgWith your trusted partner, identify the patterns of behavior that have supported your success, and also led to your difficulties.

The biggest adjustment in behavior comes in seeking, listening to and responding with sincere interest and curiousity to other's views and opinions. As Marshall Goldsmith advises, leave out of your conversation the words, no, but, and however, and add the words thank you. You may be surprised what you learn.

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