Sunday, June 17, 2007


I was discussing Arrogance last week with a colleague; we noted some really smart people who have changed professions, who think they know so much more than those who have studied the profession for decades.

Peter Drucker wrote, in an article entitled "Managing Oneself":
Far too many people—especially people with great expertise in one area—are contemptuous of knowledge in other areas or believe that being bright is a substitute for knowledge. First-rate engineers, for instance, tend to take pride in not knowing anything about people. Human beings, they believe, are much too disorderly for the good engineering mind.
For some reason I assumed Arrogance was on the list of "seven deadly sins"; Wikipedia says it is not. Generally, Arrogance is something you lose with maturity; in particular with a successful management career comes an understanding that you need the views and analysis of others to be successful. But I have observed in others that the reverse is true - they have developed Arrogance as a consequence of their success.

This to me is the ultimate failure of management; if you enable or tolerate the increase of Arrogance in your employee, you have failed. It is our job to teach, by example and by coaching, that others have something to offer and it is the employee's job to seek out and discover that offering. I believe this can be taught without damage to the ego. Humor works - and is a good teaching tool.

My assumption is that many potential teachers overlook this sin if the sinner is a high performer. I suggest you never do that. We don't have that luxury if we are to stay competitive. The world is different, incredibly complex, and changing; we must respect and learn from others. Creating leaders who don't have this property can only lead to failure.

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