Pride is the Deadly Organizational Sin

pride all about me deal with itNo Surprise on This One!  Pride is Always at the Root of What's Gone Wrong!
Great Leadership Lessons, Note 21

It is the original sin.
It is the most deadly of sins.
It is the most ingrained of sins.
It is the foolishness of those who cannot see themselves for who and what they are.
It is the sin which launches a multitude of other ones.

Call it hubris, ego, vanity, arrogance, superiority - in this form it is always bad. There is a type of pride that is good. You can have a true and necessary delight, enjoyment, satisfaction, and confidence in real achievements and accomplishments. Leaders actually need that kind of pride.


But that is not what Collins is talking about in his book and it is not what I discuss here.

definition of pridePride is the inability to see yourself as you really are. You have an exaggerated, unwarranted assessment of your self, your capacities and your accomplishments. In a culture where we constantly spin to make ourselves look good - most of us perfect the art of self-deception. We don't truly know ourselves.

Pride is the unwillingness to own up to failure, weakness, mistakes, missteps, inadequacy, and incompetency... Therefore, pride is the force that works against learning and growth. If you dont' see the need, you won't take the steps to make changes and improve.

Pride is an overconfidence that you are on top and will stay on top. I think of the Ghana--USA soccer match. About his team, Andre Ayew said, "There is no way we (Ghana) aren't going to win this game."

Pride leads to laziness and carelessness.
Pride results in misjudging the capacity of others.
Pride produces a self-absorption and not an outward focus.

In the biblical language - pride (a haughty spirit) goes before the fall. (Proverbs 16:18; Therefore - take heed. Be alert. Be aware. Don't be a fool. Do practice humility. (Se Proverbs 3:34 and 1 Corinthians 10:12)

Pride is not simply alive in individuals, it is found in organizations. At the least, it is a case of leaders imprinting and leaking their own inner world on to the organization around them.

swallow your pride, admit you are wrong, grow upIn particular, Collins highlights Four Disastrous Consequences of Pride.

1.  An entitlement mentality begins to develop.  You think you deserve success and that you will always have success. The reality is that any success you have achieved has been because of very hard work, not to mention some serendipity/good fortune coming your way.

2.  You become arrogant in your pride. Success has gone to your head. It is one thing to have a realistic awareness that lots of good, hard, strategic work has brought about the great results you experience... It is quite another to believe there is something "special" about you that made this so.

3.  You begin to neglect that primary Hedgehog and Flywheel (ideas in Good to Great) that are part of the strategic undertakings that brought about success. Once you think you are special, you forget the real pathway that got you to where you are. Once forgotten, it is neglected.

4.  You grow lazy and undisciplined as a learner. You stop learning, you start coasting. Success is always (in part) due to a passionte and sustained learning orientation. One of the greatest enemies of future success is past success. You think - you have arrived, you have the secret, the key, the program, the formula... and it will stay that way. 

Now, you can be in this mode for quite some time. Years in some cases. But once pride is there... you have embarked on the pathway to your downfall and you have forsaken the ways that brought the success you enjoy.

What you must do IMMEDIATELY - wise up, fess up, shut up about your self and grow up about the reality around you. The earlier you turn from the foolishness of pride, the sooner you can get back to Great Leadership. 

The dilemma is that the humble will accept and rush to do what I just said. The proud won't recognize their own pride and are blind to what I just said. 

Every senior leaders needs a "Truth Speaker." A truth speaker is someone in the organization who is wise, committed and who loves you enough to speak truth in love. You give that person FULL PERMISSION to ALWAYS SAY IT AS THEY SEE IT.

If you don't have such a person - why not? And what are you going to do to get one?

Remember, In Good to Great, Collins tells us Level Five leaders are humble. It is one of the most DEFIING CHARACTERISTICS of great leaders.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International