The purpose of this paper is to test the effects of CEO arrogance on key attitudes of a company’s top management team (TMT).
An experimental design involving a business simulation is used to test the effects of a CEO’s perceived arrogance and humility on the TMT in a boardroom setting.
The study finds that, as predicted, arrogant CEOs adversely impacts TMT engagement, cohesiveness, collaboration and consensual decision-making. Thus, the higher the level of CEO arrogance, the lower the levels of positive TMT attitudes. The study intriguingly also finds that CEOs who displayed humility also negatively influenced the attitudes of the TMT.
The study took place in South Africa, which may limit the generalizability of the findings. The use of a laboratory experiment may affect the ecological validity of the findings.
The results demonstrate that a “Goldilocks” area of neutrality between arrogance and humility should be sought after by CEOs and recruiters of CEOs. If this is impossible, humble CEOs are preferable to arrogant ones.
This paper empirically demonstrates that arrogant leaders negatively impact their TMT followers in a boardroom environment across a number of attitudes that are keys to the success of effectively managing a corporation. The study also demonstrates that moderation is desired by followers and that CEOs being perceived as overly humble is almost as bad as being perceived as arrogant.
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