Arrogance, Ignorance & Incompetence

How do you recognize high-performance organizations?

It’s dangerous to only look at past and current results. For example, many great companies from Jim Collins’ 1994 book ‘Good to Great,’ such as GE and Motorola, have lost their ways. They are currently a shadow of one’s former self.

What then, is a better way to spot high-performance organizations?

A track record of great results is of course essential. Yet, the conscious drive to actively eliminate leadership behaviors which undermine future success is even more important.

This drive is focused on the three leadership behaviors which typically hollow out any successful organization:

  1. Arrogance: The belief that there is nothing more to learn. Leaders are afraid to surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. Looking smart trumps getting results.
  2. Ignorance: The belief that what you see is all there is. Leaders avoid challenging their own assumptions and knowledge. Being right is more important than being effective.
  3. Incompetence: The belief that current success is mainly based on skill, not on luck. The sweet illusion of control overrides the harsh reality of uncertainty.

Take a critical and honest look at your own organization: Where do you need to put much more effort to weed out the behaviors which breed arrogance, ignorance, and incompetence?

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