Leadership: Arrogance vs. Confidence

The difference between being arrogant versus confident

I’m certain that each of you has at some time in your life have used these terms and applied them to someone you know or know of. We have applied them to fellow employees, students, friends, family members, celebrities, politicians and more. Perhaps these terms have been applied to you in the past as well. I read the best definition of the difference between being arrogant versus confident.

True arrogance

The man that I consider one of my “mentors”, Alan Weiss, said in his Monday Morning Memo “True arrogance is the belief that you have nothing left to learn, while true confidence is the belief that you can help others to learn as you continue learning yourself.” He pointed out that confident people share value while arrogant people try to “sell” you that they are correct.

Evaluating the arrogant person

It made me think about the question “how do you give a performance evaluation to someone who is arrogant?” If they feel they know it all they will be indignant with the feedback. They will resist coaching and will probably cause resentment with other employees.

The question then becomes “at what point will they cease to be of value to the organization?”  When they cease to be of value to the organization do you then get rid of them? How destructive or how toxic have they been as a result of that arrogance? What damage are they causing as a result of being a “toxic employee”? (As a side note Weiss said that smugness is the arrogance without the talent.)

My question to all of you is how do you handle arrogant people at work? At what point do they stop offering value to the organization and what do you do with them? Let us all know.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.

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