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Humble or Arrogant: What’s Your Company Culture?

humble-or-arrogantThere are many elements that make up your company’s culture, but one of the most important pertains to its environment; is it one of humility or one of arrogance? While confidence is an admirable trait, when it veers into the realm of egotism, it can be extremely detrimental to your career and your organization’s success. It should be no surprise that humble leaders run the most sustainable companies.

Let’s take a look at how humility and arrogance manifest themselves in the workplace. The difference is actually quite significant.

A humble environment is collaborative; this type of culture promotes a positive buzz, creativity and effective teamwork. Mistakes are allowed as part of the learning process and projects aren’t seen as tests, but as opportunities to work together and create amazing solutions. Leaders who operate within a culture of humility have great confidence in the intellectual and technical capabilities of every member of their team.

An arrogant environment is more like survival of the fittest. There’s often a high level of tension and every interaction is fraught with conflict. Leaders who use this type of Machiavellian approach are perceived as haughty and quick to assign blame when projects fail. This does nothing to build successful, productive teams, but does quite the opposite, creating negativity, mistrust and toxicity that leads to employee dissatisfaction and turnover.

If an evaluation of your culture finds it falls on the arrogant side, that may be a reason you aren’t getting the most out of your employees. There are steps you can take to redefine your culture and work environment to be more humble:

  • Acknowledge the power of your leadership role.  Being on the sidelines with respect to employee interactions means you accept the status quo. It’s important to embrace the critical part you play in setting the tone for the company—assessing what’s occurring and how your behavior contributes to it.
  • Identify the behaviors needed in a culture of humility. Respect, trust, communication, passion and commitment are elements every high functioning team must have. Define each of these so they can translate into humble actions.
  • Communicate your culture expectations. All employees—from new hires to the most seasoned veterans—need an ongoing reminder of what behaviors are expected from them. As a leader, you need to reinforce those behaviors in your attitude and actions.
  • Hire people whose values are aligned with your culture. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. It’s important to assess non-technical behavior traits that will affect employees’ ability to flourish in a culture of humility.
  • Shape your culture by reinforcing positive behaviors and eliminating those that are negative. This means acknowledging actions that promote a humble culture and expressing displeasure with those that are more divisive.

Humble or arrogant, your company’s culture is going to be defined by your decisions and behavior. Now that you’ve learned a bit about how each type of culture affects the work environment, the question is a bit more clear: Can you afford not to foster a culture of humility?

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