Leaders must learn the difference between confidence and arrogance – when leading, when attempting to rise within their organizations and companies, when interviewing for positions, and when attempting to become an influencer.
Let’s take the example of engaging with your boss and determining whether you want to influence, convince, or discourage the leader. Influencing means being heard & having a voice inside a situation which involves playing a change role that also has the potential for others to see you differently. This is about having the confidence to speak up and put everything on the line, recognizing that your contribution may be one of many that all have some level of value. It’s not about winning. It’s about being respected within the dialogue. If you’re confident, others will defer the space to you and allow you to be heard. If you’re arrogant, you may claim the space and be heard, but you will lose respect and the opportunity to influence. The big personality, braggart, or no-it-all generally has short-term impact, though they may perceive themselves as big, important players. A 360 will quickly show up the reality.
Taking a convincing posture means believing that you have THE solution, and it’s backed up by the facts. Depending upon the circumstances, this could be absolutely critical in a crisis situation or alternatively, still just as important regarding an issue that has long-term impact potential that others simply are not seeing yet. This takes confidence and moves beyond simply being heard and having influence to needing to get through. It requires executive and leadership presence that are effective, minus any tinge of arrogance. It’s simply too important for an arrogant posture to derail THE answer.
Discouraging a leader comes from a place of concern that a solution that has already been deployed or is about to be selected is absolutely all wrong. It accompanies having a convincing posture, but instead of being about pursuing positive outcomes, it’s about shifting away from negative impacts. It requires the ability to detail with confidence that to go down this path is to choose unsustainable strategies or to incur significant losses in the future. Generally, the discussion is from a negative posture, but can be turned to a positive if averting unfortunate outcomes can be the position pled.
Being confident is usually not accompanied by being emotional. The trick is how to feel the positive energy of having done your homework, enlisted champions to support where possible, while recognizing that even the best of us can have missed something. Displaying openness when the gap analysis of our peers identifies something we didn’t think of, and graciously include the thinking into the mix, is mastery of how to build a team that is able and willing to see the gaps together and moves past someone or a team needing to win.
Arrogance is about winning. Confidence is about believing – in yourself and in others. Arrogance is stingy. Confidence can be multiplied. Arrogance is self-absorbed & self-serving. Confidence breeds collaboration and leverages possibility.
Test yourself next time you’re in a meeting and see which approach you are functioning from. Being astute about what your real posture is as you enter a room will exponentially increase your ability to navigate your daily leadership challenges.