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Dave’s Diary: Arrogant Leadership Yields Reduced Productivity

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You love your boss right?  Didn’t think so. Is it the chaffing at authority in general or is it something in the boss’s behavior? The majority of us think that those in charge often seem to suffer from a high-powered superiority complex.

Now, there just might be some scientific evidence to back that up.

Cue to band to play the “oh no, not another obvious study” theme song. Researchers at the University of Akron and Michigan State University have developed a way to measure what is being referred to as the Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS). Its primary objective — recognize arrogant tendencies. Hmmmm. Take out mirror, hand to the average boss, tell them to look… Ta da! Arrogance recognized. Case closed. 

There is a practical application for all this, as scientists say that this test could be instrumental in helping to optimize productivity in the workplace. Those of us who have worked for a variety of bosses already know what the scientists discovered – employee turnover and an overall negative atmosphere are often caused by the boss acting more like a feared dictator than a fearless leader.

Freud might call it defense mechanism, because the research suggests that arrogant bosses have a tendency to project themselves as such as a way to assert superiority and competence when often times that level of conduct is associated with lower intelligence and poor self-esteem.

In regards to the WARS test, a ‘yes’ answer to any of these questions points toward arrogance in a boss.

  • Does your boss put his or her personal agenda ahead of the organization’s agenda?
  • Does your boss demonstrate different behaviors with subordinates and supervisors?
  • Does the boss discredit others’ ideas during meetings and often make them look bad?
  • Does your boss reject constructive feedback?
  • Does the boss exaggerate his or her superiority and make others feel inferior?

 One thing we do know from previous studies is that humble leadership increases productivity and generates an overall positive atmosphere within an organization. 

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