Confidence vs. Arrogance…is it merely a question of semantics? I think not. While confidence can be mistaken for arrogance, and vice-versa, they are clearly not interchangeable terms. When you think of yourself as a leader do you view yourself as having the quiet confidence of David or the boastful arrogance of Goliath? In today’s post I’ll describe the power that resides with the truly confident, as contrasted with self-destructive characteristics that plague the arrogant…

When you think of a true leader do you envision someone who displays a quiet confidence or a blatant arrogance?

In the competitive worlds of business and politics a reserved attitude of humility can often be misinterpreted as a sign of weakness. However if you’ve ever negotiated with a truly confident person who is authentically humble, you’ll find that their resolve is often much greater than the feigned confidence of the arrogant. While hubris can be a needed trait to call upon at times, to rely solely upon it as the foundation of your leadership style just doesn’t work.

Great contrasting examples of confidence vs. arrogance as it applies to leadership would be the quiet confidence of World War II Generals’ Omar Bradley and Dwight Eisenhower vs. the often outrageous arrogance of Generals’ George Patton and Douglas MacArthur. All four were great strategists and tacticians, but it was the two less grandiloquent commanders who went down in history as more highly regarded leaders. They were able to command greater loyalty and respect from peers and subordinates alike with less bravado and more humility and discernment.

The truth of the matter is that few things have inspired and motivated me over the years like the quiet confidence and humility of great leaders. I would much rather listen to the self-deprecating humor of a confident person making fun of themselves than the mean spirited attacks of an arrogant person waged at someone else’s expense. More importantly, I would much rather work for, or along side of, the understated than the overstated. Those professionals that have self respect, and demonstrate a true respect for others regardless of their station in life, are much more likely to be successful over the long-term than those that use the tactics of disrespect to humiliate and intimidate.

While arrogant people can and often do succeed in business, I believe that it comes at a great personal and professional cost. Arrogance rarely results in lasting relationships built on a foundation of loyalty and trust. Rather arrogant people typically find themselves surrounded by exploitative individuals who are all to happy to ride the “gravy-train” in good times, but at the first sign of trouble all you will see is their backs as they run for the hills.

The confident also succeed in business, but not at the expense of others as do the arrogant. You’ll find confident leaders have broader spheres of influence, attract better talent, engender more confidence, and earn more loyalty and respect than do those that lead with solely with their chutzpah.

If what you’re seeking is lasting relationships, long-term success, and a better quality of life (in and out of the workplace) then you will be better served to forgo the pompous acts of the arrogant, and substitute the humility and quiet confidence displayed by true leaders.

I welcome any discussion about how either confidence or arrogance has impacted your role as a leader. Please share your thoughts in the comments below…