Leadership arrogance, ego and blind ambition – where are the humble leaders?

In my local state of Queensland we just had an election. The first term Premier came in 3 years ago with a massive swing in his favour, one of the biggest in history. This weekend he and his party have been almost booted out. He lost his own seat, and as he said, his political career is over.

At the Australian national level we have another leader, Tony Abbott, who is also a first term Prime Minster, and would most certainly lose if we went to vote today.

Like most countries around the world, Australia faces similar issues. Lack of funds, a blown out budget, and the high need for infrastructure and jobs.

The solutions to these issues are not the same as they would have been 10 or 20 years ago. The world has changed. We need solutions that consider the whole world and not just the local economies. But that is the topic for a different blog.

What is obvious with both these men is that while they may have been right for the first year or 18 months of their term as a leader, they have failed to recognise that they are no longer the right people for the job. And in their stubbornness to realise that we need specific types of leaders for specific environments, they stayed far to long at the cost of both their party and the nation.

A crisis environment needs a leader who is good at managing crisis. A situation where a more conciliatory approach is required, requires a different leader…different in style, personality and touch.

At the State level, the now ejected leader was right for the tough decisions that needed to be made when his party inherited a very dysfunctional and broke State. But his incompetence in connecting with humans, with being able to tell the story of his enacted changes in a way that conscripted people to come along on the journey had most people label him as arrogant. He worked so hard and with so much passion and commitment for the job, but it was this blindness to his own appropriateness for the changing needs of the role that was his undoing.

Our Prime Minster is heading for the exact same play. If he voluntarily chose to step aside then my opinion of him would go up. But I doubt he has the capacity to do that. And that is the issue.

I see this behaviour time and again in entrepreneurs of their own company. Their brilliance lies in the start up, creative, entrepreneurial phases of the business. To think they have the ability to manage a company that is at a different stage is naive/ignorant.

Any leader worth their salt has the self awareness to know when they are the best person for the job and when to step aside. This is the opposite behaviour of leadership arrogance.

Self awareness is not a weekend workshop. It is a life time commitment of application of reflection, learning, taking on feedback from trusted but diverse sources, listening to the environment around you, getting quality coaching and development and growing humility. Humility is key. A leader without humility is a danger to him/herself and the people they serve.

Am I able to bow my head and listen, deeply listen, to the overwhelming evidence around me? Am I able to admit that I might be the problem? At the least, to deeply entertain the question?

If we are unable to do this then we are not able to be a leader that the world requires.

Photo credit: Stephen Rowley via Compfight

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