“A natural optimist, I was only willing to see the good in everyone – including myself. I could see that when I wasn’t open to looking at my own dark side (those pesky weaknesses and overused strengths!). I lacked depth of character, and arrogance was hovering menacingly in the foreground. I started some very hard work to change.” Mary Jo Asmus, Aspire founder and executive coach
We’ve all suffered from arrogance. We believe we’re the expert or we know the right way to do “it.” It happens when we’re too busy and we just focus on results. We’re smart rats so we know how to use our strengths to succeed. We’ve done it in the past and keep expecting that same behavior to work in the future. We’re not alone. We read daily about leaders who don’t see change coming or who are blind-sided by an ethical breach in their organization.
The problem is that arrogance is all effort and pushing hard. It’s exhausting. Inevitably, we find our way of being becomes ineffectual; either from outside resistance by those who find our behavior offensive or internal resistance because we don’t have the “juice” to keep on pushing. This happens when we’re not in the flow and benefit from who we are.
In fact, executive leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith, who has coached 100 of the Fortune 500 companies and wrote a best-seller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There says, successful good leaders make a point of looking at themselves honestly, through feedback, to make the behavior change they need to succeed:
So what are we leaders supposed to do with this information? Asmus offers six tips for becoming “real”. Here are two:
Reflect, set goals, act. Reflecting on your thoughts and behavior is an under-appreciated activity, but essential for the moral actions you must take as a leader.
Recognize arrogance. What triggers arrogance in you? It’s often fear. Fear of not being the best, of competing with others, of not belonging. Recognizing what activates your ego is the first step in dealing with your fears.
It’s not easy taking the deep dive to figure out your motivations and your character strengths and weaknesses, but when you do, your behavior and your actions become aligned and take a lot less effort. That’s when real innovation and change can start to happen.