Arrogance and business don't mix

298 reads

In a village long ago lived a young boy who loved nothing as much as competing in athletic contests.  Because he was fit and strong, he usually triumphed and grew to love the adulation he received from the villagers around him.

One day he challenged two other youths to a race from one end of town to the other.  The villagers all lined up to watch.  The boy won, and the townspeople cheered wildly.

"Another race!" the boy demanded, greedy for more praise.  "Who else will race me?"

Two more young men stepped up, and again the boy won handily.  He laughed in pride as the villagers cheered - though they were a little less enthusiastic than before.

"Who else wants to race me" the boy said.  "Come on, are you all afraid?"

An elderly woman was watching the races, and she grew annoyed at the boy's arrogance.  So she prodded two elderly men to challenge him.  They could barely make their way to the starting line, but they seemed willing to compete.

"What's this?"  The boy was puzzled.  How could he win the applause he craved by beating two old men who could hardly stagger two steps?

The old woman walked up and whispered in his ear:  "Do you want applause for this race?"

"Of course," said the boy.

"Finish together," the woman said.  "Just finish together."

The boy did as he was told and received the loudest applause of his life when the three of them reached the finish line, side by side.

That boy learned a valuable lesson that day.  No one likes arrogance.  Have you ever worked with someone who is arrogant?  It's not a pleasant experience.

Of all the human failings that can destroy a person or a business, arrogance is the deadliest.  It is the most readily acquired, the easiest to justify and the hardest to recognize in ourselves.  Arrogance can infect all employees in a company with the silent destructiveness of a computer virus.  

Herb Kelleher, the now retired head of Southwest Airlines, understood that arrogance is the greatest danger to a successful company.  He said, "A company is never more vulnerable to complacency than when it's at the height of its success." 

Kelleher began his 1993 annual letter to all employees by describing the major threat to Southwest Airlines in the '90s in these words:  "The number one threat is us!"  He went on to say, "We must not let success breed complacency; cockiness; greediness; laziness; indifference; preoccupation with nonessentials; bureaucracy; hierarchy; quarrelsomeness; or obliviousness to threats posed by the outside world."

There is nothing at all wrong with being proud of your company and the work you do.  In fact, if you don't take pride in your work, you are probably not doing the best job you can do. But pride is not arrogance.

Arrogance is defined as engaging in behaviors intended to exaggerate a person's sense of superiority by disparaging others.  It's not the same as narcissism, which is self-admiration. Nor is arrogance the same as being confident, which I consider a positive trait.  

Unfortunately many leaders today confuse confidence with arrogance.  Confidence in one's ability is a critical element in the willingness to take risks while still steering the ship. Arrogance takes risks by assuming everyone will get on board even when the boat has a hole in it.

According to an article in "The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist," arrogant people:inflate their self-importance and see themselves as better than others, purport to be more knowledgeable than others, consider their own behavior acceptable, make others feel inferior, avoid blame and pin blame on others, discount feedback, don't perform their job well and are less likely to help others.

I would add to that list that arrogant people are name droppers, avoid eye contact, frequently interrupt conversations, seem to have an opinion or an answer for everything and aren't afraid to blast their competitors.  

If you recognize yourself doing any of these offensive acts, check your behavior.  It's nearly impossible to be a team player if you think you are better than everyone around you. Before long, you will be looking for a new team.  You'd better hope your reputation doesn't precede you.

As Elvis Presley said, "If you let your head get too big, it'll break your neck."

Mackay's Moral:  Don't let arrogance get in the way of "finishing together."

 

 

Trending

818
Harvey Mackay's picture

Develop high performance habits

Are you performing up to your potential?  Are you afraid to jump to the next level?  Are your habits pushing you forward or holding you back?The most important book on self-motivation and achieving more than you imagined hit the bookstores
779
Harvey Mackay's picture

Your business depends on your personal touch

Mamie Adams always enjoyed going to a branch post office in her town because the postal employees there were friendly.  She went there to buy stamps just before the holidays one year and the lines were particularly long.  Someone pointed
701
vnbhattacharya's picture

What will you do in this difficult situation?

Instead of writing about my views on business strategy as I do every month, I would like to present an exciting and tricky problem today.It is an issue of decision making similar to what many senior and top managers have to deal with from time to
689
johnsullivan's picture

The New New Thing: Blockchains and Recruiting

If reading about AI is making you feel like Alice in Wonderland, then take heart, there’s something new on the horizon — Blockchains. The technology has been around since 2008 but is now getting more mainstream in business applications, though...
687
hindustantimes's picture

Year of Culture: India’s diversity rocks London audience

 Sufi music, opera singing and Indian folk dances merged seamlessly with British hip-hop and tap dance as more 150 artistes put on a vibrant performance at one of the last events of the UK-India Year of Culture 2017.Billed as the Independence
641
davecrenshaw's picture

How To Get Work Done Without Stretching Yourself Thin – Pick Dave’s Brain

Could you pass the insanity test? This week’s question comes from David in Salem, West Virginia. He asks: I’m following your time management training program, yet often I find I’m putting appointments on my calendar and then not completing them—
630
jackcanfield's picture

5 Leadership Traits of Great Leaders

Whether you’re climbing the corporate ladder, building a network marketing downline, working for social change, or even coaching a Little League team or organizing a civic event, knowing leadership traits of effective leaders will make you more
627
anandmahindra's picture

youtube.com/watch?v=7SNwhZ…

From: twitter.com Via: twitter.com This could constitute a serious threat to Mahindra Odyssea, our boat building company. https://t.co/AwzTQVLp1lYou
621
johnsullivan's picture

AI or IA? Intelligence Augmentation for Recruiting

IBM’s Watson is synonymous with AI. Perhaps IBM should have named it Sherlock. Anyone familiar with the Sherlock Holmes stories knows that Watson wasn’t very bright. But he did have his uses. He was good at collecting and summarizing information,...

Pages