Much like the character Peter Gibbons in Office Space, you may be dealing with an arrogant boss. And much like this industry, you probably want a measurement tool. Have no fear, your wishes have been answered.
Developed by researchers at The University of Akron (UA) and Michigan State University, the Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS)—interested acronym, by the way—can help organizations identify arrogant managers before they have a costly and damaging impact.
Arrogance is characterized by a pattern of behavior that demeans others in an attempt to prove competence and superiority. Stanley Silverman—dean of UA's Summit College and University College and an industrial and organizational psychologist—says this behavior is correlated with lower intelligence scores and lower self-esteem when compared to managers who are not arrogant.
"Does your boss demonstrate different behaviors with subordinates and supervisors?" Silverman asks. He says a yes answer could mean trouble. Silverman warns that yes replies to these other questions raise red flags and signal arrogance.
- Does your boss put his/her personal agenda ahead of the organization's agenda?
- 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/her superiority and make others feel inferior?
It sounds to me that a yes answer to any of those questions means the person is much more than arrogant; that person's a jerk (and that's being polite).
Silverman and his colleagues Russell Johnson, assistant professor of management at the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, and Nicole McConnell and Alison Carr, both Ph.D. students in The University of Akron's Industrial and Organizational Psychology program, published details of the Workplace Arrogance Scale in the July 2012 issue of The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist.
Left unchecked, arrogant leaders can be a destructive force within an organization, Silverman says. With power over their employees' work assignments, promotion opportunities and performance reviews, arrogant bosses put subordinates in a helpless position. They do not mentor junior colleagues nor do they motivate a team to benefit the organization as a whole, contributing to a negative social workplace atmosphere.
Silverman says that arrogance is less a personality trait than a series of behaviors, which can be addressed through coaching if the arrogant boss is willing to change. He recommends that organizations incorporate an assessment of arrogance into the employee review and performance management process.
He also emphasizes that cultivating humility among leaders and promoting a learning-oriented work climate go far in reducing arrogance and increasing productive leadership and employee social interaction.
The 16th-century English bishop John Jewel once said, "If we learn not humility, we learn nothing." I agree. Greatness starts by being humble.
(Story material via the University of Akron.)