Shun Self-Righteous Leadership in 2024 To Build and Equip Your Teams

Lillian Ngala at her office
#LillianNgala #LNN

The word “leadership” evokes images of visionary figures inspiring others to greatness. Whether in politics, business, or even our local communities, great leaders take the reigns and charge from the front, their teams solidly behind them.

But what happens when a leader’s helm is guided, not by inspiration, but by a blinding sense of self-righteousness? The consequences, as we shall explore, can be detrimental not just to individuals, but to entire teams and workplaces. For our midweek musings, we’ll aim to uncover why self-righteous leadership does a disservice to teams and can erode the gains made within the workplace.

How Does Self-Righteous Leadership Think and Act?

Leaders who fall into this category are often unaware of their shortcomings. They often operate within a bubble of self-constructivism, fueled by an unwavering belief in their infallibility. This culminates in an arrogance that stifles dissent and kills open communication and innovation.

The result could be meetings where folks’ perspectives are quickly dismissed, or creative ideas are met condescendingly. This, unfortunately, is the chilling reality under the reign of self-righteous leadership.

The Ripple Effect – How Self-righteous Leadership Erodes Performance

Studies have already demonstrated a direct correlation between arrogant leadership styles and decreased employee engagement, productivity, and morale. This is reflective of self-righteous leadership where teams often suffer from:

  • Micromanagement and Stifled Creativity: Self-righteous leaders are often micromanagers, convinced of their own superior knowledge. That leaves little room for individual initiative and problem-solving.

  • Echo Chambers and Missed Opportunities: When a leader is self-righteous, they are perpetually in an echo chamber. There will be plenty of blind spots and missed opportunities that can lead to costly mistakes down the road.

  • Fear and Blame Culture: Self-righteous leadership leads to toxic team environments where fear has taken root. Questioning the leader is taboo, and mistakes are met with blame-shifting. That further erodes trust and hinders collaboration.

Self-righteous Leadership Versus the Transformative Power of Humility 

The stark contrast to this bleak picture of self-righteous leadership is in the ethos of humility and continuous improvement. That is embodied by the Japanese Kaizen philosophy which is underpinned by constant progress and a never-ending journey to excellence.

Leaders on this opposing end of the spectrum actively seek feedback, acknowledge shortcomings, and take charge of both team successes and failures. Such leaders celebrate the success of others and foster a climate of trust, open communication, and shared learning.

The differences between the two sets of leadership are profound. On the one hand, are teams that are unmotivated, disengaged, and frequently colliding. On the other hand are teams that are demonstrably more engaged, collaborative, and innovative. Such teams led by humble leaders achieve superior results, not through fear and control, but through a collective brilliance unleashed by a positive environment.

In 2024, Chart the Course Away from Self-righteous Leadership

So, dear reader, as you introspect on your goals for this year, what type of leader do you aspire to be? Are you the architect of an echo chamber, or a facilitator of growth? Is your word law in your station, or are you a fellow learner and traveler on the road to excellence?

Remember, leadership is not about blind self-belief. Rather, it is about inspiring others to believe in themselves and the collective potential of the team. In 2024, let us commit to being leaders who foster positive change, not through the illusion of our own righteousness and greatness. Instead, we will embrace the power of humility, introspection, and a shared commitment to growth.

This is not an ending, but a beginning. Share your experiences, and join the conversation at #LillianNgalaNetwork #LNN. Let us all commit as leaders to bring out the best in those around us. See you on the next one!