Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are you an arrogant leader?

Supervisor, manager or C-level executive, arrogance in leaders affects employee performance, organizational performance and personal performance in many negative ways.

Worse yet, arrogance means that you’re not open to feedback, you deny accountability for your own behavior and you are unlikely to have enough awareness to recognize the difference between confidence and arrogance and their effects on your own career and the workplace overall.

The Workplace Arrogance Scale (Wars), developed by University of Akron and Michigan State University scientists, is one of the many assessments that can help identify arrogance among leaders.

The University of Akron scientist details the findings that led them to produce the Wars on the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Siop) website. Arrogance among leaders affects employees, organizations and the careers of leaders themselves. Arrogant leaders experience lower task performance and reduce positive work culture. That’s because while they act superior; arrogance is tied to low self-esteem and a tendency to demean and dominate others. Arrogant leaders aren’t open to feedback because they are threatened by it and this makes them less open to learning. They don’t try to better themselves as much as they try to appear better than others. In fact, arrogance is one of the reasons that executives end up losing their jobs.

Because they do have power over others, arrogant leaders make employees feel helpless: unable to meet unrealistic demands but likely to experience repercussions for speaking up. Because they discount feedback, they’re decisions and actions are often faulty. Combined with their low citizenship behaviors - not helping or mentoring others, creating negative work climates and caring more for their own promotion rather than the good of the organization - it’s easy to see how much arrogance in leaders can affect the bottom line.

Arrogance differs from narcissism, hubris and confidence explains the Akron scientists. While narcissism is about self-grandeur, arrogance depends upon disparaging others in order to feel superior. While hubris is about false confidence, it doesn’t always involve contempt for others. Confidence is based on factual ability and belief while arrogance is inflating ability to make others feel inferior. Arrogance stems from low self-confidence.

It is a cluster of behaviors that distinguish arrogance: disrespecting or demeaning others or their ideas; exaggerating one’s knowledge; blaming others instead of accepting accountability; and being closed to feedback. The good thing about this is that arrogance can be measured through performance reviews and other 360 degree assessments and - these behaviors can be changed. Improving self-awareness, building confidence by building real skills, working on emotional intelligence and learning agility can all help arrogant leaders become better leaders.

Organizations that build such assessments into their culture can identify and address arrogance before it becomes overly destructive. By building up open communication, feedback mechanisms and learning and development processes, arrogance can become less of a threat, especially if your organization becomes more decentralized and less hierarchal. These kinds of organizations can increase workplace humility. Humility is the antithesis of arrogance. It means being able to see yourself and others with accuracy and perspective. It means putting the greater good before your own. Humility leads to trust and learning.

In a Harvard Business Review article, John Baldoni stresses just how important humility is. It is essential for teamwork in that members can learn from and support others while accommodating personality differences.

Are you arrogant or humble? Do you emphasize only your own accomplishments or that of others too? Do you admit your mistakes? Get your hands dirty?  Speak more or listen more?  Delegate or overburden? If you are a capable and confident leader, do you know how to convey this without coming across as arrogant?

By Oksana Tashakova (MAXIMISE YOUR POTENTIAL) / 23 June 2013 – Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The writer is an executive coach and  HR training and evelopment expert.

Views expressed are her own and do not reflect Librahitech Blog’s policy.

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