What Happens When Pride Gets in the Way of Leadership

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Like many things in life, pride can be either a positive or a negative.

It’s a great and appropriate thing to feel when you’ve worked hard to accomplish something difficult.

But when pride becomes too entangled with ego, it comes across as arrogance.

This kind of pride can be personally destructive and dangerous to the effectiveness your leadership.

Here are seven danger signs to watch for:

Conceit. Humility is one of the greatest values in leadership, and leading with pride and conceit only advertises the absence of humility. Unsurprisingly, those who care about only themselves and understand only their own perspective are often the most miserable. Stay on track by making sure everyone on your team has voice, value, and their fair share of the credit.

Superiority. When you set yourself above everything around you, you make sure that others are forced to look up to you. On the other hand, your own view is limited if you’re always looking down on everyone and everything. It’s a serious failure of perspective. Remember to stay focused not on how important you can become, but on how much of a difference you can make.

Arrogance. Even less desirable than conceit or superiority is arrogance, which combines an elitist view with aggressive and even destructive tendencies. Arrogant leaders don’t care what they harm as long as they come out on top. If you find yourself feeling wanting to help yourself have more, be first, or take more than your share of credit, it’s time for a change.

Narcissism. Self-esteem is good, of course, but the narcissistic leader has an overdose level. They’re secretly sure that they’re smarter or better than anyone else, and they’d far rather be admired than cared for. The results? Vanity, entitlement, and exploitation. The best cure is to stay connected to your responsibility to others.

Selfishness. You cannot be a great leader and be selfish. Pride demands to be served with a show of respect, but leadership is about stewardship and the willingness to serve. Serving others requires us to focus on their needs rather than our own, and it reminds us of how we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Entitlement. Great leadership is about expressing gratitude. But those suffering with undue pride believe they truly deserve every good thing that comes to them—and more. There is something about saying “thank you” that takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them back onto others.

Self-absorption. The self-absorbed person brings all topics back to themselves. They counter loneliness and isolation by putting themselves at the center of every conversation, every project, every idea—when the true cure for isolation is exactly the opposite.

If your pride pushes you toward performing with excellence, doing your best, and finding joy in the accomplishments of yourself and others, it’s probably helping you become a better leader.

But if pride is about taking the credit, feeling superior, and exploiting your relationships, then pride is a problem. It’s a problem that’s often grounded in low self-esteem and fear, so those are good starting places for the tough work of self-correction.

Lead from within. Leading with pride can be a problem when it begins to hurt both our life and our leadership. The test we must set for ourselves is not to march alone but to march in such a way that others will wish to join us. That is leadership.



N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Garren Fagaragan

    26. Apr, 2016

    The test we must set for ourselves is not to march alone but to march in such a way that others wish to join you. I love it Lolly.

    I found an antidote for my sneaky pride in Althea Gibson’s statement,

    “No matter what accomplishments you make, someone helped you.”

    Thanks for another great post Lolly. Make it a great day!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Syed Shahbaz Ali

    26. Apr, 2016

    “When pride gets in the way of Leadership” –
    Your traits loses charisma inside- out and act as an obstacle in the way of success and spread negativity, its impact can be seen on personal, professional, public life.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Harry Rozakis

    28. Apr, 2016

    One only need look as far as Washington and the unbridled hubris that exists there to affirm this article. In business there is always someone who can take a shot at you and bring you down a few notches. In government it is only a well informed mob who can do it, and unfortunately mobs aren’t usually well informed. @harryrozakis

    Reply to this comment
  4. Joseph Lalonde

    28. Apr, 2016

    Thanks for the warning signs Lolly. Pride can be a dangerous thing when we let it take over our leadership.

    Reply to this comment
  5. John Guild

    01. May, 2016

    You’re too kind, Lolly. Add these prideful traits up and you have a sociopath who has no conscience about the harm being done to others. Worse, he/she cannot hear your warnings.

    It’s good to read the comments of those who are alarmed when they see these traits in themselves. They can change. But when you see a pattern of entitled arrogance in others — a boss, partner, spiritual leader, or spouse — you need firm boundaries and an exit plan.

    Reply to this comment
  6. oweka moses

    25. May, 2016

    Amazing exerpts lolly,you make ma tym each piece that pops up is worthy a read.keep it up

    Reply to this comment
  7. Karla Rivera

    19. Oct, 2017

    Thank you for putting this out there. I’m sad to say I’ve been experiencing these destructive characteristics more and more – not only in leaders but in peers/colleagues as well.

    Reply to this comment
  8. Mukhiya

    04. Nov, 2017

    Thanks for sharing ma’am!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Stanton Lupul

    28. Dec, 2017

    Pretty! This has beеn ann incredibly wonderful post. Τhanks for providing tһis information.

    Reply to this comment

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