How Leaders Can Be Humble in an Age of Arrogance

arrogant leader

Leadership Power

Leadership is often linked to power, and it can unfortunately also be linked with arrogance. I believe most leaders are positive people who want to use their power and influence for good. Most people don’t start a career plan with the goal to become arrogant, either. And yet it happens.

How should leaders use power? How do leaders protect against becoming arrogant? How do leaders stay humble?

As one of the early endorsers of The Leadership Killer: Reclaiming Humility in an Age of Arrogance, I had the opportunity to interact with authors Bill Treasurer and John Havlik about their work. They have known each other for decades, but they took decidedly different paths. Bill is founder of Giant Leap Consulting and has authored several books on leadership. John Havlik is a retired Navy SEAL who led special operations teams around the world for decades. The combination of civilian and military leadership experience was also an intriguing aspect to their work together. I reached out to them to talk about the important subjects raised in the book.

 

Every leader must answer this critical question: how will I use my leadership power?

 

How Leaders Effectively Use Power

How do leaders effectively use power?

It’s important to acknowledge that leadership involves the use of power to affect results. In fact, a leader is deemed successful or unsuccessful based on the magnitude and consistency of results achieved. As a leader grows in effectiveness and influence, the more power they are given to, potentially, affect more results. The leaders we admire most, and the ones we consider to be most noble, are those who use and distribute power in a way that best serves the interests of the people and teams they are charged with leading. The challenge is, though, as a leader grows in power, the more susceptible they become to the trappings of power. Emperor Palpatine, who was Darth Vader’s mentor and master in the Star Wars movies, said, “All those who gain power are afraid to lose it…even the Jedi.”

For example, in their annual report, the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that of the 2700 cases of fraud across more than 100 countries, perpetrators who had worked at their organizations for more than 10 years caused six times as much financial damage (over the median loss) than fraudsters who had worked there less than one year. One interesting contributing factor is that often as a person rises through the leadership ranks, they become subject to less direct oversight, and it becomes more tempting and easier to hide crimes. In other words, when leaders abuse their power it is often because they’re convinced they won’t get caught.

 

“All those who gain power are afraid to lose it…even the Jedi.” -Emperor Palpatine

 

Signs of Misuse of Power

What are some of the signs of a leader who is misusing that power?

14 Elements of Leadership Self-Awareness

self awareness

Know Thyself

Self-awareness is a critical component of true leadership. It is nearly always a precursor to a leadership role in an organization. When someone ends up in a powerful position of authority, we expect a certain level of self-awareness and self-mastery. If that is lacking, it is immediately noticeable.

Joe Scherrer of The Leadership Forge put together this infographic to share the elements of self-awareness and the power of leadership presence.

 

“Self-awareness is probably the most important thing towards being a champion.” -Billie Jean King

Why Your Success is Fueled by Your Peers

surround people

The Discipline of Success

 

If you want to be successful, it seems to make sense to get around successful people. The people we are around have an immeasurable impact on us. It’s one of the major themes in my book, The Book of Mistakes: 9 Secrets to Creating a Successful Future.

That’s why I was drawn to Leo Bottary’s new book, What Anyone Can Do: How Surrounding Yourself with the Right People Will Drive Change, Opportunity, and Personal Growth. He covers this important aspect of success. Success is available to everyone who pursues it with discipline. I recently spoke with Leo about his work.

 

“Self-help doesn’t mean by-yourself-help.” -Leo Bottary

 

The Importance of Peers

Since it is so central to your area of study and expertise, would you start by talking about the importance of peers. Why does it matter more than ever?

Trust in our institutions is low across the board (business, government, media and even non-governmental organizations) — because of this, it creates a vacuum.  If we can’t trust our institutions, where else do we turn?  For example, in the workplace, employees were found to trust their co-workers more than either the CEO or any of the senior leadership team members (Edelman Trust Barometer).  When we lack trust in our institutions, and the people who lead them, we look to one another for reliable counsel.  It’s why in today’s environment, our peers matter more than ever.   It also points to why it’s so essential for leaders to communicate horizontally as well as vertically.  The biggest influencers in today’s organizations are not always identified by job title.  In an era where creating “alignment” is the challenge of the day in so many of today’s companies, getting ALL your key influencers involved early and often is essential to making real alignment possible.

 

“Who you surround yourself with matters.” -Leo Bottary

 

What is the Aspen Effect and what does it teach us about leadership? 

The Aspen Effect speaks to a phenomenon in nature.  We see individual Aspen trees, yet it’s not evident they share a common root system and that thousands of Aspen trees can be one organism.  We are all connected.  If we thought of ourselves more often in terms of being part of a larger whole, we would be more successful more often.

 

“We need our peers more than ever.  The less we trust institutions, the more we must rely on one another.” -Leo Bottary

 

Factors of High Performing-Peer Groups

How Leaders Achieve Radical Outcomes

outcomes

 

Do you want to create radical outcomes?

 

Juliana Stancampiano, author of RADICAL OUTCOMES: How to Create Extraordinary Teams, is an entrepreneur and the CEO of Oxygen. For more than fifteen years, she has worked with Fortune 500 companies, both in them and for them. Her firm’s clients include Microsoft, DXC, Delta Dental (of WA), Starbucks, F5 Networks, Avaya, and Western Digital, among others. Her in-depth experience, along with the research that Oxygen conducts and the articles she has published, has helped to shape the perspective that Oxygen embraces.

After reading her new book, I reached out to Juliana to learn more about her work.

 

“You cannot defend your design without knowing what you’re designing for.” -I.M. Pei

 

Set the Vision

What’s the role of the leader in the team to produce radical outcomes?

The leader sets the vision and acts as the guard rails. The leader remains outcome-focused yet allows flexibility to achieve the outcome.  It’s not commanding and controlling your team.  It’s knowing their strengths and ensuring roles and abilities are aligned.

 

“Teams must understand and focus on outcomes, not on tasks.” -Juliana Stancampiano

 

Face Team Obstacles

What are the obstacles many teams face in becoming an effective ensemble?

Lack of role clarity. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities avoid internal disagreements.  Teams must understand and focus on outcomes, not on tasks.

Structure and process that prevent ensembles working effectively. We’ve seen performance management that rates people in comparison to their peers, not based on outcomes. When people are rated on a curve, they constantly compete with each other to improve their own rating.  This prevents meaningful ensemble work.

Lack of visibility of work product. Teams must share, even before the “thing” is completed. Early sharing allows teams to iterate together and stay focused. Lack of sharing produces work that often doesn’t meet the stated outcome. It also causes unnecessary re-work.

Various modes of communication.  Effective teams must communicate differently – fast communication, phone communication, chat communication – depending on topic and need.  They embrace different modalities, at different times and with different people.

 

“Lack of sharing produces work that often doesn’t meet the stated outcome.” -Juliana Stancampiano

 

How do team members become collaborative and not competitive?

10 Strengths of a High-Creative Leader

creative leader

Scaling Leadership

 

The world of business is moving faster than ever before, and this world is filled with much volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. In their book, Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most, leadership experts Bob Anderson and Bill Adams argue that in these fast-changing times, no single leader—no matter how skilled or how experienced—can know everything that needs to be known about their organization, nor consistently make the best decisions. The solution to this dilemma is to scale leadership.

I recently interviewed Bob and Bill to learn more about scaling leadership and the implications for leaders in any kind of organization.

 

“A business can’t outgrow the effectiveness of its leadership!” -Robert Anderson, William Adams

 

Scale or Die

What does it mean to scale leadership?

There’s a fundamental principle of life as we know it—it either scales and grows, or it dies. It’s that simple. Growth is built into the DNA of every living organism that exists on our planet today—from the mighty redwoods, to vast underwater forests of kelp, to huge migrating flocks of birds, to human beings. Businesses are in many ways much like living creatures. Businesses either grow and thrive, or they die and fade away—doomed to irrelevance as competitors pass them by.

However, it’s not enough to simply grow our organizations. We must also scale new and innovative solutions to complex business, organizational, and global problems. And we must do so in a world that’s becoming increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. This requires leaders throughout the leadership system of the organization who can do more, know more, decide more, contribute more, and be more—for their organizations, their people, their customers, and for the communities in which they do business.

Leaders must learn to scale themselves by scaling leadership. Leaders who scale leadership grow the capability and capacity of those who work for and with them to take on leadership tasks of their own—leveraging their own leadership across far more individuals and teams while creating a workplace where people thrive.

Setting up peer coaching and accountability groups with a regular practice of providing ongoing, supportive feedback greatly accelerates and scales the development of Creative leaders.

 

“Leaders must learn to scale themselves by scaling leadership.” -Robert Anderson, William Adams

 

10 Strengths of the Most Effective Leaders

Based on your extensive research, what defines a High-Creative leader or differentiates the most effective leaders?

In the research presented in Scaling Leadershipwe look into what differentiates the most effective leaders from those who are not. We do so by analyzing 1,350 pages of 360-degree written comments—senior leaders providing written comments to other senior leaders. While every leader is different, bringing different sets of strengths and weaknesses to the table, we found that High-Creative leaders consistently demonstrated the following 10 strengths: