GROW OR DIE - are we becoming arrogant?

If we wish to have long lasting successful businesses, teams and great customers then feedback is essential. Feedback helps to identify and grow businesses opportunities, our peoples potential and better service our costumer wants.

Resisting feedback distances us from opportunities, our people and customers and creates a fertile bed for arrogance to grow.

C. J. Mahaney describes arrogance as one who is, “ motivated by self-interest, self-indulgence, and a false sense of self-sufficiency” (2). Arrogance breeds behaviours that are “not inclusive, diverse of thought, creative, or enlightening” (5). A business that becomes exclusive, self-suffecient, bereft of creativity and concern for others, and self-indulgent no longer sees input from customers as essential for continued growth.

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The question we need to ask of ourselves is, if our customers become “bothersome” are we becoming arrogant?

If we seek to become a great leader operating a great business with exceptional customer service, we desperately need feedback. We need the new information feedback provides regarding ourselves, our business, its’ teams, and our customers.

Feedback is nurtured through those people who have a vested interest in your success. People such as a leadership coach/consultant, mentor, life coach, your employees and customers. Through feedback you will gain greater operational clarity and strategic insight, and it is a preventative to replicating or enlarging yourself to the detriment of others.

Most of this feedback will come in the form of criticism which, even when given in love, hurts. It hurts because it demands change, and change is demanded of you if you genuinely desire to have long lasting success.

Arrogance rejects change and deceives you into believing that you are greater than you actually are. A business displays this deceptive behaviour of arrogance as an “overconfidence” in its’ own agendas and ideas. Not only does arrogance deceive you into believing you’ve “made it”, it also guides your business in a downward spiral to irrelevance and potential destruction.

Arrogance, or business overconfidence, causes amnesia as you forget that it’s your customers (and employees) who were instrumental in your success. You begin to think that your company is “it”, and beyond failing. Rather than looking to your customers wants you start to tell them what they desire.

This is the first victim of arrogance - customer service.

Rejecting feedback creates a roadblock that prevents a sense of empathy towards others, an essential attribute if you wish to offer exceptional customer service (and a great work environment).

Resisting feedback stunts our businesses growth and denies the opportunity for new ideas to fruit as we neglect to develop our followers, teams and customers. The quicker we can respond to feedback, the better we become as it helps prevent us from resisting change and falling into the arrogance trap.

Besides feedback, what else do we need to help us develop our employees, customers and ultimately our business’s long term success?

It is humility.

Humility is the midway point between two negative extremes - arrogance and lack of self-esteem (5).

“Humility, or the quality of genuine modesty and unpretentiousness, is often disregarded when describing traits of good leaders because it seems to suggest a lack of toughness and resolve essential in an effective leader. However, the humble leader lacks arrogance, not aggressiveness.” (6)

Many of us assume that humility is an absence of pride. However, if we operate without pride, then humility becomes passivity and complacency (1). Pride is not the self-defeating behaviour we face as leaders, it is a lack of humility.

If our businesses operate without humility, pride then becomes arrogance and conceit (1). Without humility you set up roadblocks to feedback and your business’ long term success as arrogance grows and sets up self-defeating behaviours that fail to heed the warning signs your business, your staff and customers are telling you. As M said, in the James Bond film Casino Royal, “Arrogance and self-awareness seldom go hand in hand”.

Together pride and humility form a sure foundation (1) for healthy growth as you honestly face your strengths and weaknesses within your business and yourself as a leader, and deal with them positively.

“The chief executive who knows his strengths and weaknesses as a leader is likely to be far more effective than the one who remains blind to them. He also is on the road to humility, that priceless attitude of openness to life that can help a manager absorb mistakes, failures, or personal shortcomings.” John Adair (7)

What examples of humble leaders have we seen around us?

Neil Armstrong was identified by many as such a leader. Author James Clash said that, “In a world where everything is about ‘me, me, and me,’ he was a rare throwback to a time when humility and character counted…” (11) Jim Collins identified David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett Packard and Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines amongst others as a humble leaders.

What about businesses that operate with humility?

The list looks impressive with the likes of Google, Wal-Mart, Southwest Airlines, Rockwell Automation and Intel to name a few who are practitioners of organisational humility (9, 10).

Ca we learn humility?

Learning to be humble is a rigorous process. However, guided by feedback from others people like Benjamin Franklin and George Washington learned humility (8).

Our businesses have an opportunity to grow because we as leaders become aware of our strengths and weaknesses through feedback. Add humility and we offer ourselves the opportunity to become great leaders, and create an environment where our people can grow and feel free to experiment, learn through trials, gather the courage required to be honest, to take risks, make mistakes, and to fail.

Feedback and humility are the essential elements required for a thriving business, great teams and exceptional customer service.

The choice is ours; grow through receiving feedback, improve the soil around us through humility, or die by arrogantly resisting it.

Here is a couple of worthy Youtube videos for you:

Richard Branson on Customer Service

6 Common Customer Expectations

  1. Robert J. Furey, PhD., So I’m Not Perfect: A Psychology of Humility.

  2. C. J. Mahaney., Humility: True Greatness.

  3. Art Petty., Two Voices: Humility and the Effective Leader.

  4. Jim Collins., How The Mighty Fall.

  5. Bradley P. Owens., Wade C. Rowatt., Alan L. A. Wilkins., Exploring the Relevance and Implications of Humility in Organizations.

  6. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Doty., Dan Gerdes., Humility as a Leadership Attribute.

  7. Henry O. Dorman., The Speaker’s Book of Quotations.




  11. Jim Collins., Good to Great.


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