The benefits of having a strong, confident leader at the helm are obvious. As a motivator and driving force of your business, you need to exude confidence, positivity and power.
You set the tone for your employees, and dictate the company’s general approach towards reaching business goals.
But is there such a thing as overdoing it?
Being cocky and confident both rely on a strong belief in one’s own abilities. The difference between the two attitudes is the response it evokes in your employees.
Confidence is inspiring and uplifting; arrogance is disempowering, and frankly quite embarrassing in a leader.
Decades of study into management psychology suggests that not only are some bosses jerks, but many of them are in leadership roles because they are jerks.
Research suggests being a jerk can help you get up the corporate ladder. You many not be a good leader, but you may still get the opportunity to sit at the head of the table.
Of course, the term ‘jerk’ isn’t the most scientific. For the sake of this article, it sums up a persona that is rife negative personality traits, like being narcissistic, manipulative, cocky and self-serving.
In some cases, leaders are just misunderstood.
If you’re at risk of being viewed as cocky rather than charismatic, err on the side of confidence when dealing with your team, potential customers and shareholders with this handy checklist.
1. Do you avoid eye contact?
Arrogant people care more about themselves and how they are viewed than others. Most will engage in conversation only to talk themselves up, and tend to look past you, always on the lookout for someone better to talk to.
Confident leaders look people in the eye and make them feel as though they are the most important person in the room.
2. Do you tend to run late for meetings?
Arrogant people think the world should run on their clock. If you hear yourself putting your calendar above everyone else’s, stop!
Being late suggests you don’t value anyone else, and not apologising for your delay suggests that you think you’re better than your team.
This establishes an ugly pecking order, where your team feels less like a unit and more like your servers.
Confident leaders are punctual and quick to apologise when they’re off schedule. They go out of their way to make their employees feel like colleagues with a ‘we’re all in this together’ attitude.
3. Are you dismissive?
You don’t have to call your employees names to come off as condescending or rude.
You may be emitting cues that you are unapproachable and brusque, for example, by cutting off people mid-sentence, talking over them, bandying about dismissive hand gestures or turning your back on them in conversation.
Avoid trying to multitask when someone is speaking to you. If you’re busy typing, texting, or otherwise occupied, you run the risk of appearing dismissive.
Confident leaders know when to say ‘no’, and can politely reschedule conversations with colleagues if they’re in the middle of something pressing.
4. Do you externalise your internal monologue?
Arrogance stems from insecurity, which is why many arrogant people have running commentary in their heads, either constantly scrutinising their every thought and move, or reading too much into what others say about them.
This internal monologue can cloud judgment and lead arrogant people to tune out other conversations. If you find yourself constantly overthinking, it may be time to schedule mid-day mindfulness meditations.
This handy trick basically involves finding five to ten minutes between meetings when you’re alone. In a quiet and calm environment, find time to clear your mind.
The benefit of mid-day meditation for arrogant personalities is that it puts your thoughts, actions and words in perspective and quietens your inner monologue.
You may find yourself actually listening to other people, and hopefully that will give you the dose of humility and understanding you need.
Remember confident leaders are good listeners.
5. Do you swagger like Mick Jagger?
What works for a timeless entertainer like Jagger won’t work in the real world.
Keep arrogant body language in check by catching yourself out. If you swan about the office, point at people, find yourself towering over someone seated at their desk, or generally display an aggressive or dominant stance, stop!
This conveys an air of superiority and territoriality that can turn a lot of people off. Confident body language conveys approachability and warmth.
6. Do you play the blame game?
When something goes wrong, arrogant people find excuses, while confident people find solutions.
Confident leaders admit mistakes and learn something from them, rather than playing the blame game to make others feel small.
In times of crisis, arrogant people will rarely respond honestly to questions to which they don’t have the answer.
A simple “I don’t know the answer, but I will find out” conveys confidence.
7. Do you have one-up-itis?
If you catch yourself undermining people by overshadowing their accomplishments, it could convey arrogance.
Arrogant people have one-up-itis, where they just can’t help themselves. They just have to have the best anecdotes. If you start a response with “that’s nothing, I’ve…,” stop!
Confident people don’t feel the need to brag. Their accomplishments do it for them.
8. Do you trash-talk competitors?
Arrogant leaders refuse to see the good in others, most likely worried that it may overshadow their own strengths. If you catch yourself talking down your business rivals, or worse, your team, it’s a sign you may be slipping to the dark side.
Confident leaders take the high road and keep it professional. They know when to congratulate competitors, and when to keep quiet.
In closing, think Branson, not Trump. Be a leader people want to follow and learn from, not one that ends up as a bad anecdote at a party.