Career Guide

Pompous, conceited, egotisticÖ

All thatís ugly in leadership begins with arrogance

Arrogance. Itís such an ugly word. Sadly, the ones who are arrogant may not know that they are.

Want to do a self-check?

1. Look down your nose on those you serve. Arrogance views others as burdens and irritations.

2. Beat yourself up over little mistakes. Arrogance canít learn from failure, because failure is not an option for pomposity.

3. Feel anger as a first response to human frailty.

4. Secretly manipulate, rather than openly influence. Arrogance has a personal agenda. Influence seeks the highest good of organisations and individuals.

5. Help from a high tower of superiority. Youíre arrogant if giving help puffs you up, but receiving help is out of the question.

6. Cheat to win. Saving face makes integrity a convenience, not a necessity.

7. Consider people as objects to be used for personal gain.

8. Reject the idea of dependence and interdependence and choose to stand aloof.

9. Criticise first and ask questions never.

10. Respond with ungratefulness. Entitlement robs arrogance of gratitude.

11. Put receiving value before giving value.

12. View leadership as an entitlement, not as an opportunity to serve.

13. ĎGet ití and others donít. Arrogance is always Ďrightí.

14. Push back with explanations, justifications, and excuses when receiving tough feedback. If you want to see a personís true character, give them tough feedback.

15. Never seek feedback. Giving feedback is the only option for arrogance.

16. Your world is best explained with ĎI, me, and mineí.

The cure

The idea that you can overcome arrogance is an expression of, well... arrogance.

Donít try to overcome arrogance. You canít stop that puffy feeling in your chest when respected leaders respect you. It just happens.

The practice of humility is the only cure for arrogance.

In my 20s, an elderly gentleman complimented me on my choice of clothing. I gave him a short lesson on style. Iím embarrassed by that today.

Humility says thank you.

Arrogance gives a lesson.

Notice your arrogance and respond with humility.

How might leaders overcome arrogance?

- Dan Rockwell is a coach and speaker and is freakishly interested in leadership. He is an author of a world-renowned leadership blog, Leadership Freak. To get in touch with Dan, write to us at

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