Arrogance Disguised as Selflessness

Leader Without A Paddle

Imagine this.

A new Vice President joins your organization from a similar company in the same industry. Only his former company is bigger and arguably more successful. The leader has a grand vision that if implemented will have a significant impact on the company’s end customers and shareholder value. He comes in blazing and doesn’t just want to move the chairs on the deck, but wants to shift the direction of the boat.

The new leader preaches about change. He tells people that his agenda is the best thing since iced tea. He even tells a tale about crossing the river of fear.

The problem is that the existing team members like the way the deck chairs have been arranged. Why? Because they arranged them that way. And they like the direction that the boat is headed in. Why? Because they are steering the ship!

And when the leader looks back as he is on the verge of making something big happen, he realizes that he has been left upstream not only without a paddle, but without a crew.

He is a leader without followers – which actually means he isn’t a leader at all.

This may seem like an extreme case, but in fact it’s more common than you might think.  After all, we hire leaders to lead people to somewhere in which they are not today. And, we often hire leaders from the outside. Do you want to avoid falling overboard into this same trap? Then watch out for the following mistakes:

  • Talking much more than listening (because you already know the answer and don’t need others’ input)
  • Overreaching strategically in order to create results that are a testament to your capability
  • Focusing on your own agenda and failing to gain the trust of your people
  • Getting upset easily when your ideas are challenged
  • Failing to honor what has come before you

The story above is really a story about arrogance disguised as selflessness.Arrogance, by definition, is behavior that is experienced as superior, egotistical, and self-centered. And, according to research by The Leadership Circle, highly arrogant leaders have been known to commit the organization to business strategies, in an effort to promote their legacy, that seriously compromise the financial future of the business.

Coming into an organization in a senior leader role as an “outsider” is never easy. It’s nearly impossible to be successful when you don’t first build trust with the people around you.

Don’t fall into in the sea of arrogance disguised as selflessness.