26 July 2012

Identifying the arrogant boss

Arrogant bosses drain the bottom line because they are mostly poor performers who cover up their insecurities by disparaging subordinates which leads to organisational dysfunction.


Arrogant bosses can drain the bottom line because they are typically poor performers who cover up their insecurities by disparaging subordinates, leading to organisational dysfunction and employee turnover.

A new measure of arrogance, developed by researchers at The University of Akron and Michigan State University, can help organisations identify arrogant managers before they have a costly and damaging impact.

The Workplace Arrogance Scale (WARS) will be presented at the American Psychological Association convention in Orlando on by industrial and organisational psychologist and professor Stanley Silverman, dean of UA’s Summit College and University College.

What is arrogance 'covering up'?

Arrogance is characterised by a pattern of behaviour that demeans others in an attempt to prove competence and superiority. Silverman says this behaviour is correlated with lower intelligence scores and lower self-esteem when compared to managers who are not arrogant.

“Does your boss demonstrate different behaviours 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 organisation’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?

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.

Effect on morale

Left unchecked, arrogant leaders can be a destructive force within an organisation, notes Silverman. 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 organisation as a whole, contributing to a negative social workplace atmosphere.

Silverman says that arrogance is less a personality trait than a series of behaviours, which can be addressed through coaching if the arrogant boss is willing to change.  He recommends that organisations incorporate an assessment of arrogance into the employee review and performance management process. Silverman emphasises 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.

(EurekAlert, July 2012)

Read more: 

Abusive boss bad for home relationship


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.