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Do you work with people who act like they know everything? Or don’t want to hear an opinion that differs from theirs?
Ever have to make sure the boss thinks your ideas were his?
Managers who ignore new ideas (or act out at those who present them) are sometimes described as decisive or strong-willed. I think they are actually displaying what I refer to as insecure arrogance.
Author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote that the test of first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas and still retain the ability to function. Managers who succumb to insecure arrogance often lack the confidence to weigh or wrestle with multiple points of view. Their insecurities lead them to act like they are completely certain their way is the best or only way.
Clearly, insecure arrogance can be detrimental to an organization’s culture and overall productivity. Limiting exposure to multiple ideas or potential solutions stifles personal and professional growth of the perpetrator and those around him.
How can we know if we’ve been displaying insecure arrogance and how can we avoid it?
Do you actively seek diverse opinions? Are you able to adjust your approach after hearing a compelling idea? Strive to understand the rationale behind differing viewpoints and weigh multiple opinions before making decisions (and still, as Fitzgerald wrote, maintain the ability to function).
What can we do when we encounter insecure arrogance?
There really isn’t a one size fits all approach. However, the first step involves understanding the emotional makeup and personality style of the person displaying insecure arrogance. If the person is data-driven, provide details to make your case. When working with a more instinctual, emotional decision maker, tell real-life stories or anecdotes that they can relate to.
Ultimately, though, it’s about your relationship and strengthening it. Treat them the same way you treat your best clients. You know what makes your top clients tick, right? You find creative ways to reach and influence key customers and to make it about them. Apply these same techniques with your boss or peers to overcome their insecure arrogance.
David M. Mastovich, MBA, is the president of Massolutions, a Pittsburgh based Integrated Marketing firm that focuses on improving the bottom line for client companies through creative marketing, selling, messaging and customer experience enhancement.