Pride: The Silent Leadership Assasin


Pride is a powerful foe. Even the best leaders can easily fall victim to this silent assassin if they are are not vigilant.

How often have we seen leaders fall from places of significance and influence to places of disgrace? It seems like a regular occurrence that we hear about a leader who comes crashing back to reality after pride has taken over.

Pride & Pain

Pride can cause you pain and damage in a variety of ways. It can be as scant as a simple bruising of the ego in one incidence. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, it can cost you a large portion of your leadership effectiveness and credibility.

Remember, it is very apparent to others, and less apparent to us, when we get our heads and hearts filled with the prideful venom of self-saturation and adulation. It eats our credibility from the inside out.

Like a Ninja, pride can be very stealthy and can quickly disable or eliminate a leader with little warning or fanfare.


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I have found that through every season of my life and throughout my development journey as a leader, that pride has been a consistent, persistent, and worthy adversary.

Consider the Source

For me, protection from pride comes from a variety of sources.

One of the most powerful and meaningful is the unconditional love and support from my wife, Erin.  She is my greatest cheerleader (and was one in real life) and my strongest defense against this leadership assassin.  She keeps me grounded and always brings me back to reality and focused on what is truly important in life and as a leader.

With every individual or team success, the unwary leader can increase their vulnerability to the destructive forces of pride. The same skills, competencies and values that make you successful as a leader can be the very things that can “puff you up” and replace humility in your heart with a lethal dose of venomous pride.

“As a leader, you must be proactive and put defenses in place to protect your heart and status as a leader from the ‘Silent Leadership Assassin’.”

One strong defense against pride is a network of other leaders who can and will be honest with you when they see pride creeping up on you.  Sometimes others can easily see the enemy approaching and can help you thwart an attack and keep your leadership strong and on track.

I challenge you to develop, cultivate and utilize your own defensive team of leaders to keep you accountable and safe.

Please share any experiences in your own leadership journey when pride may have gotten the best of you and the impact it made.  I would also love to hear stories of tools you have used that have been an effective defense against pride.

Image source PNC/Getty Images 

3 responses to “Pride: The Silent Leadership Assasin

  1. Very good, Bryan. I really liked this one.

    I can only speak for myself and, in doing so, I may be revealing a fundamental character flaw; however, I believe that pride is something that all leaders have in varying degrees. What you have been talking about is the ‘unhealthy’ form of pride. What I have been able to do is to take pride in my leadership abilities and how those leadership abilities allow me to SERVE those I lead and those I follow. I feel proud when I have knowlege to share or skills to teach in order to develope those I lead. I feel proud when that same knowledge and/or skill set serves my leader(s). It is my sincerest hope that my vanity is ‘canceled-out’ by my service.

    The key I believe, is to recognize a flaw and, if you cannot exorcize it, to mold and shape it into an asset that can benefit you, your followers, and your leaders.

    Alexander Flemming took a blue-green mold and, from it, developed pennicillin. A useless…even dangerous…substance was transformed into something that could be used to the benefit of millions of people. By recognizing our own ‘mold’, we can work to transform it into something positive.

    (Parenthetically: that last paragraph came about after using the word ‘mold’ in the paragraph preceeding it. It’s funny how our minds work, sometimes.)



  2. There’s pride in your accomplishments and those of others, then there’s the boasting kind of pride. I think you can avoid a lot of the negative pride if you run your life around the “lovecat” concept (Love is the Killer App, Tim Sanders). Simplistic and not original yes, but modesty, compassion, and sharing what you know are good rules of thumb to live by.


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