Arrogant leaders gain momentum when their ego is feed and rewarded by their actions. They begin to think they are invincible. Now many arrogant leaders can be turned around so they are confident but not arrogant. As I demonstrated in my earlier blog with the example of the Ship Captain from the Costa Concordia Ship, arrogance, left unchecked can be deadly. By now you have probably heard all the scoop about this not being the first time this captain has pulled his ship off course so the employees can wave to their friends on the island.
So how do you turn around someone who as moved from confidence to arrogance?
1. Be direct with them. You need to spell it out in no nonsense language what traits you are seeing, why they bother you, and what you expect the person to do to turn them around.
2. Watch what you are doing to “feed” that arrogance. Are you letting them talk over others in meetings? Do you allow this person to go “rogue”? Do you hold them to the same rules as others or do you let the results dictate the rules?
3. Once you know what you are doing that allows this to exist, let the person know you will be STOPPING those behaviors so you don’t feed in to the pool. Tell them EXPLICITLY what YOU have been doing wrong and how you will stop doing it. I recommend you make part of this change public. For example, “Bill, I have been remiss in allowing you and your team to operate outside our sales guidelines. This causes disruption in the entire process for the company but I have been so focused on the revenue that I didn’t see the repercussions of allowing this to happen. I want to be clear that I won’t allow it any more and that if it happens I will point it out .” Remember they are “in tune” to your behavior so far so they won’t believe the changes until they see them.
4. Remember this will require them to change how they operate with others and their team so elicit from them exactly how they will do that. Don’t just assume it will happen.
5. Set clear consequences if change doesn’t happen. Define with them how you both will know the changes are happening and what will be done if the changes AREN’T made.
It is a fine line between confidence and arrogance. The big problem with arrogance is that it causes the person to put blinders on so they miss critical information, they read a situation incorrectly and they can not anticipate and evaluate risks accurately. So reign them in now in order for both of you to enjoy the crown of confidence and not the thorns of arrogance.