Arrogance in business can kill you.  Let’s be clear, arrogance is not confidence.  The two are miles apart. Although many arrogant leaders are confident in their arrogance.  Confidence is a belief in yourself, your people and the gift both bring to the table through their character, chemistry and competency.  Confidence is the idea that you can conquer any challenge brought your way because you know your team has the answers, or can find the solutions the client wants/needs.

Arrogance is self-adulation.  Arrogance is boastful, proud and self-centered.  Arrogance is the belief that only you have the answers.  Arrogance is flat out pride. Extreme arrogance refuses to be taught, or learn anything from anyone else.  This is a huge tell because so many of our clients and fellow team members have great answers, intellect and wisdom from which we can learn and grow.  Arrogance won’t listen to others. Arrogance won’t allow constructive criticism for fear of “looking bad”.  

Arrogance forces people across the table to second-guess their standing.  Arrogance makes everyone at the table nervous. Arrogance alienates. Arrogance lacks any sense of humility.  It’s worse if the leader is also controlling, or tries to micromanage every aspect of the business. Arrogance and insecurity often accompany one another.  Loyal team members begin to dwindle because every time they attempt to make a contribution of value to the conversation they are shot down by the leader who is threatened.  Typically, turnover is high in firms, or companies with this kind of leader.  

Wise leaders have a grasp on the legitimate threat of arrogance.  They are humble and surround themselves with people who have permission to ask them hard questions.  All too often we confuse arrogance for confidence until it’s too late. Wise leaders ask their people for their opinion or input.  They want and crave feedback. They don’t need to be reminded how good they are because they are confident, but not boastful. Confidence knows the answer to many questions (not all) it asks, but it asks them because it likes to let its people shine.  Confidence also admits when it doesn’t have the answer to the question. Confidence knows someone on the team has an answer.

Be careful and be warned if you are working for a leader that has to be right 100% of the time.  Beware if the leader cuts you off from contributing an answer that is backed up by research, experience and knowledge.  Arrogance eventually drowns its afflicted. Oh, it takes time, but sooner, or later customers, clients and team members recognize it for what it is, self-centeredness.  Add value where and when you can, but realize this beast rarely changes its behavior.

Charles Carter, Partner

WebSpeak Media

102 Trade Street

Greer, SC 29651


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