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Arrogance Vs. Confidence: The Difference Can Make or Break Your Leadership



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To become a successful leader, confidence is required. It is a quality that can help you to build strong relationships with others, get things done from employees, and carry on your business effectively. However, sometimes leaders can go overboard, and their confidence can become arrogance as there’s a fine line between these two personality traits.

Confident leaders believe in themselves, listen to others and accept other’s point of view. They can build great teams, motivate others and influence a positive company culture. Arrogance, on the other hand, can be defined as a lack of appreciation. It is about being full of yourself and feeling you are always right.

To be a good leader, you must walk that fine line between confidence and arrogance. Successful leaders are down-to-earth, considerate and humble in their relationships with their employees.

Leaders can cause harm to themselves and their organizations if they exhibit arrogance instead of confidence. They can drain employee motivation and lead to high turnover rates.

So, how can leaders know when their confidence is nearing arrogance? Read the 8 signs below:

1. They believe they are the smartest

Arrogant leaders have a belief that they are the smartest in the organization. When anyone goes against their opinion, they completely ignore that. They make arguments to prove themselves right. Pompous leaders belittle those who disagree with them. They don’t like being challenged or questioned.This makes the subordinates and peers accept the decision even when the leader is wrong, thus hindering innovation in the organization.

Confident leaders ask for honest feedback from co-workers, customers and others whom they work with. They have the self-assurance to take what they hear and then use it positively.

2. Unwillingness to learn

Leaders who are arrogant not only consider themselves smarter than others but are also unwilling to learn from people. They think they know everything and are capable of managing the business successfully.

However, they can’t take the inputs of others, thus they are stagnant. Confident leaders keep a learning attitude so that they can continuously improve in all the areas of their lives. They actively seek new information and believe in gaining wisdom from others.

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.” – Douglas MacArthur

3. Not admitting mistakes

Arrogant leaders don’t accept their mistakes and are quick in pointing out faults of others. They blame others when things go wrong, not taking accountability for their actions and mistakes. They don’t believe in apologizing.

Confident leaders are humble, readily admit their mistakes, learn from them and ensure they don’t reoccur. They never see their mistakes as a sign of weakness. They understand that they aren’t perfect and can get things wrong. Because of this, they tend to be role models for others in their organization.

4. Lack of listening skills

Arrogant leaders lack listening skills and are not empathetic. They are busy doing their own things instead of listening to the concerns of others, demonstrating they have more important issues to attend to than their employees.

Confident leaders are good listeners. They make their subordinates feel comfortable and at ease due to the patience, compassion, and empathy they show.

5. Self-centredness

Pompous leaders put themselves and their personal agendas ahead of organizational goals and the common good. They don’t make decisions that are beneficial to all.

Confident leaders give priority to their subordinates, supporting and inspiring them to achieve business goals. They help in the development of others, teaching them the best of what they know and motivating them to work effectively.

6. Use of condescending words

Arrogant leaders don’t mind putting others down with phrases like “that’s stupid.” Their arrogance is reflected in their communication, both verbal and non-verbal. They raise their voice when conversing with people to prove their point and they don’t mind humiliating their subordinates in front of others.

This type of arrogance leaders display turns people off, and they lose the loyalty of their team members. Confident leaders respect others and communicate politely.

7. Insecurities

Leaders who are arrogant have insecurities. They need external validations, so they try hard to convince themselves that they are the best. This leads them to be highly critical of others and find faults in them. They also compare themselves to the people around them and get satisfaction from their failures.

Confident leaders don’t look for external validations and seldom make comparisons to feel they are good enough.

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John Maxwell

8. Praising themselves

Arrogant leaders brag about themselves and their achievements. They love to talk about their goals and dreams. They don’t like to praise and give recognition when others do great work or are successful and they also can’t take it or believe others are worthy of appreciation.

Confident leaders recognize great contributions by inspiring confidence in others. They praise in public and talk to subordinates as equals.

Being confident without becoming arrogant is a challenge that leaders have to keep on their agenda at all times. In order to make sure you are confident and not pompous in the long run, you need to continuously check on yourself.

The best way a leader can demonstrate confidence is through humility. Humble leaders have high self-esteem and self-awareness and are motivated to do better.

Treat yourself kindly, acknowledge your weaknesses, hold accountability for your mistakes, learn to get your own acceptance, and avoid comparing yourself with others to not appear arrogant.

In your opinion, what qualities make a great leader? Let us know your thoughts below!

Nidhi Dave is working as a content and brand strategist at ProDesigns - a graphic design company, recommending strategies to meet customers’ goals and deliver a superior user experience. She provides content leadership, ensuring that a consistent brand message is delivered to the audience.

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