Cocky or Confident? The Difference Matters.

23 Dec

While pride and confidence in one’s work is important, indeed necessary, it’s very easy for success to breed unwarranted egotism. This is particularly applicable to entrepreneurs, who are, almost by definition, self-motivated and individualistic.

So how can managers work to cut off arrogance where it breeds, yet also encourage confidence and self-esteem? More importantly, how can they recognize excessive pride in themselves?

Unlike other character traits such as wit, emotionality, sociability and logic, arrogance is much more difficult to recognize in one’s self. Psychologists at Cornell University conducted a study to analyze how individuals performed on a given task versus how they perceived their performance.

Researcher and psychologist David Dunning told Inc. magazine that the individuals who did the worst were more likely to think they had outperformed everyone else.

Some savvy executives recognize the danger of hubris. Southwest Airlines chairman Herb Kelleher has even warned employees in a company-wide email that the brand’s No. 1 threat it themselves, citing “complacency, cockiness, greediness, laziness, indifference, preoccupation with non-essentials, bureaucracy, hierarchy and quarrelsomeness” as unfortunate consequences of success.

However, it’s one thing to recognize arrogance – it’s something entirely different to actually combat it. First it helps to diagnose the case at hand. If an employee or a manager is observed to be particularly conceited, it may be that their confidence belies a deep-seated insecurity. Are their an workers in your company known to make jealous-laden comments about other employees? Have you ever made such comments?

You should strive to recognize the difference between confidence and outright smugness. Confidence is healthy – indeed no entrepreneur has had success without some kind of ego. But allowing it to balloon is where procedures can be disrupted, quality ideas rejected, and work environment rendered toxic.

No matter how confidence you are in your ability, remember that you are a member of a company. How members within that company interact with each other affects how the organization performs. By quelling egos to a point that permits the free flow of ideas, the company can operate on a healthy degree of confidence that is devoid of excessive pride.

How does your organization combat excessive egotism?

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  1. HR Can Help Managers Understand the Value of Employees | Employer Solutions Blog - January 25, 2012

    […] any business manager or executive. However, the natural individualism of leadership can sometimes inflate one’s ego and instill a sense of righteousness. Leaders who are able to recognize that they do not hold the answers to everything are better […]