city job 1200pxOne of the key characteristics for any potential partner is self-confidence. However, is there such a thing as too much confidence? Is this when it becomes arrogance? Worryingly, being perceived as arrogant by your partners is a major barrier to making it to partner. Or is it all to do with how other’s perceive you? Jon Baker explores the difference in this blog post between confidence and arrogance.

What do you think about confidence and arrogance? Is one good and the other bad? This was a topic in a recent coaching conversation with one my coaching clients, who was trying to be seen as more assertive with her team.

Many people admire confidence and see it as a good thing – it’s also a must have for any partner or aspiring partner. How about you, what do you think of confidence, in fact what do you think confidence is? Please add your definition to the comments at the bottom of this article.

Many people, throughout all levels of a professional services firm, find it difficult to work with arrogant people. However, it’s not surprising that many professionals, to get to where they have got to, are seen as arrogant. How do you react to arrogance?

What’s the difference between confidence and arrogance?

Here’s my list, but I’m sure that you can add more to it, your views will help us explore the subject:

  • Arrogant people spend more time bragging, or talking about themselves.
  • Confident people inquire and listen. They don’t get defensive when the response isn’t what they wanted, nor do they feel the need to disagree or even respond.
  • Confident people don’t need material objects to fuel their self-worth, they’re happy to be themselves
  • Arrogant people tend to drop names in to conversations, without a real need (other than their own need to be seen as well known and connected).
  • Arrogant people are much more concerned about themselves than others, so they don’t listen. This also means they interrupt the conversation frequently. They may well be looking around the room for others to talk to.
  • Have your heard an arrogant person say, “I don’t know the answer, let me find out for you?” Confident people are more comfortable admitting mistakes and learning from them.
  • An arrogant person feels good when somebody else feels stupid. They reference themselves externally (feel good by feeling better than somebody else). They will frequently correct other people, is that how they feel “confident”?

Confidence in a leader

If confidence is a good thing that implies that it helps you to influence others. From a personal perspective I know that when I feel confident I’m better able to persuade an audience to do something. How about you?

But then if confidence is admitting mistakes, would you follow a person that admits mistakes?

If you need to increase your confidence, how about reading ‘how my parking skills can improve your confidence’

Arrogance in a leader

What do you think of arrogance? Does arrogance make you better at building your client portfolio and getting more from your people? You may push people harder if you’re arrogant, but does it work? 

Who defines arrogance?

My business partner, Heather, found it difficult to settle into her first job and as a result retreated (in the workplace) into her shell. This made her seem detached from the people around her and perceived as arrogant. Not being prepared to show your vulnerability, like Heather in her first role, can often be a trigger for others to see you as arrogant. You may not think you’re arrogant, but your team and the people around you may think you are. Does that mean the difference between arrogance  and confidence is the perception of the other person?

Confidence and arrogance both involve believing in one’s abilities, perhaps it’s the apparent refusal to believe in other peoples that causes the appearance of arrogance?

Very often, becoming too assertive, can be seen as arrogant or aggressive. It all depends on the situation, context and expectations of the other person.

Find out how assertive you are copy 200pxIf you are worried that you are coming across as arrogant, how about taking our free assertiveness self-assessment tool (email required)

What do you think about arrogance and confidence? Is one positive and one negative, is there even a difference between the two?





Jon BakerJon Baker is a Business Coach, Sales Trainer and Experienced Public Speaker who specialises in working with partners and potential partners from small firms – typically up to 10 partner practices. He helps the professionals with 5 to 50 staff improve their performance and grow their firm, sustainably, profitably and whilst enjoying the experience.

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