How to lead Confident without being labelled Arrogant

Image courtesy of Stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.netWe all know that charismatic person entering the room. It’s definitely not purely appearance. Standing tall, making eye contact, with the right tone of voice, and just enough energy and passion.

So how about yòur personal branding? Is it important to you? Research has shown that being perceived as confident, decisive and assertive, inter alia, is key to being promoted into leadership positions. What has been called “executive presence” is seen as essential when it comes down to influencing internal and external stakeholders.

But what causes one person to come across as charismatic and self-confident, whilst the other is just seemingly behaving as an arrogant slash insensitive elephant in a china shop? And how to deal with this fine line between arrogance and confidence?

Below you can find a checklist for self-assessment.

Please answer following 5 questions with 1, 2 or 3.

(1) I often find myself surrounded by idiots. As a consequence, correcting others is something I frequently do. I never admit being wrong (even when I know I am). Even more, I tend to dismiss people in response to them dismissing my ideas.

1=Very recognizable
2=It may occur
3=Absolutely not

(2) How my behaviour affects people around me is of no importance to me. I keep a clear distance. What others think and feel is their concern, not mine. It is my way or the highway.

1=Very recognizable
2=It may occur
3=Absolutely not

(3) I love bragging about my personal achievements and all the important people I know and have worked with. Team triumphs are not what I believe in. It is a competitive world out there. You just have to be a little mean to be perceived as confident.

1=Very recognizable
2=It may occur
3=Absolutely not

(4) In a meeting, I give my opinion as if it is fact. After all, I am the expert in my domain. If it weren’t for my great ideas, valuable insights and solutions, I wouldn’t be on this position. As a confident person I always come up with an answer. Having no answer is no option.

1=Very recognizable
2=It may occur
3=Absolutely not

(5) Showing vulnerability is not done. There is no room for my personal past mistakes, limitations or fears. I also believe apologizing for things like being off-schedule is a sign of weakness. People will just have to accept that I am a busy person who’s always stretching schedules.

1=Very recognizable
2=It may occur
3=Absolutely not

Now add up your scores.

Total score 1 – 5

I’m afraid you might be radiating some serious arrogance from time to time. But then again, what others think of you is of no importance to you, is it? And I am sure it has worked out just fine for you. So why change your point of view? Tell me, what would happen if you did?

Total score 6 – 10

You probably find yourself balancing on the fine line between confidence and arrogance. Can you take some time for self-reflection? Take a look at your own behaviour in the next couple of days. In addition, ask some targeted feedback from your team members.

Total score 11 – 15

Although you have a clear opinion on key issues, you know that listening to others may bring you new perspectives, ideas and possible solutions. Your team members will probably regard you as someone they like to be involved with. As in confident but not arrogant.

I am sure you have noticed the fun-factor in the tool above. Or at least I hope so. My only goal is to incite some reflectivity. And I welcome any discussion about how either confidence or arrogance has impacted your role as a leader. Provided there is a healthy dose of self-confidence, self-reflection on domains as emotion management, inner core and interpersonal behaviour can support you in finding balance. As is practice.

Sofie Varrewaere is the founder of After studying a Master in Psychological and Pedagogical Sciences, she ogled into the magical world of Recruitment, Selection and HR Services. Working for the world leader in HR, she has always been in an advisory role in relation to the larger goals of several multinational organizations. In 2013 she started her own company in International executive Coaching. Doing what she is good at, challenging others as well as herself. Contact her at [email protected]

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