Recently one of my clients asked my thoughts on the difference between being confident vs. being arrogant/cocky and the impact on leadership effectiveness. I loved the question and decided to write a blog on the topic.
From my experience, this question sparks a lot of debate as the majority of people feel that there is a fine line between these two “personality traits” (given both entail a strong belief in one’s own abilities). To be a good leader one must walk that fine line between the two personality traits. While having self-confidence is a required quality of a leader, too much confidence is not. Too much confidence can easily become a turn off, rendering you ineffective as a leader. Most leaders are consciously or unconsciously undermining their effectiveness as their confidence turn into cockiness.
Below is a summary of the characteristics of arrogant/cocky leaders vs. confident leaders
|Arrogant Leaders||Confident Leaders|
|Are typically excessively proud of their abilities.||Have no uncertainty about their abilities.|
|Are more concerned with comparing themselves with people around them.||Are happy to celebrate others’ strengths and achievement even if it makes them “invisible.”|
|Get satisfaction from other people’s fallibilities and failures||Empathise when others fail.|
|Are Inspiring.||Are a turn-off.|
|Build self-esteem from outward sources such as positional power, financial privilege or constant praise||Build true self-confidence from within and project it to the world.|
|Have an exaggerated view of their abilities.||Have a realistic picture of their own traits and abilities and trust themselves enough to respond to life authentically.|
So the question is how does one manage the delicate balance between confidence and cockiness? Whilst there is no formula, based on my experience of working with leaders across a number of sectors, the following practices help leaders strike the right balance.
- Acknowledging your weaknesses. Arrogance is usually just a mask or overcompensation for a fear of not being good enough. Letting others see your humanity and your weaknesses, and admitting to mistakes when you make them, actually makes people respect you more, not less. This ultimately builds your confidence.
- Focusing on your strengths. Confident leaders are in touch with what their strengths are, too. They do not spend all their time trying to cover up or compensate for what scares them—instead, they turn their focus to areas where they excel. Focus on your strength in healthy ways.
- Letting your actions speak for themselves. Confident leaders are more concerned with getting things done and putting their talents to use for the greater good than they are with pontificating about how great they are.
- Praising others wherever possible. Confident leaders are mindful of others and always seek opportunities to praise others, rather than feel threatened.
- Keeping a check on the intention of their actions. Confident leaders are always clear on the intentions of their actions. Their intention is always to ensure that the job gets done.
- Seeking feedback on how you impact others. Perception is reality. No matter how good your intentions are, as a leader, how others perceive you is equally important. Practice seeking feedback whenever possible. As long as your intention is to further develop your self-awareness and effectiveness as a leader.
Surely there are more ways for you as a leader to cultivate your confidence in healthy ways, but these are some of the suggestions that I have seen being effective.
If any of the issues above resonated with you, and would like to find ways of supporting yourself as a leader, why not take advantage and book yourself on our free leadership consultation coaching session by clicking here.
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Article written by Vongai Nyahunzvi, Executive Director of VCN Consultancy Services l leadership development l Executive Coaching l Author