What is the difference between confidence and arrogance? (Part 1 of 2) by Roz Usheroff

Posted on May 3, 2013


Editor’s Note: Over the past few months there has been much discussion surrounding the need for procurement professionals to step up to the plate to claim their rightful seat at the executive table.

While I wholeheartedly support the need to establish one’s influential presence based on their contributions to the organization, the manner in which this is done is as important, if not more important than how well one has performed. 

In this context, when I read Roz Usheroff’s latest post on her Remarkable Leader blog regarding the differences between confidence and arrogance I knew that I had to ask her to share it here on Procurement Insights.  As you read this powerful post, I am certain that you will understand why.

Confidence is not a belief that one is always right or a sense of being unable to fail. True confidence welcomes alternative perspectives and opinions. A confident person rarely will be found lecturing or preaching to others on how they are wrong. Believing you are always right and unable to accept influence from others can make one obnoxious to be around. Confidence is being willing to be wrong and knowing you’ll be ok if you are. A truly self-confident person is able to show vulnerability and admit to past mistakes.

In the above excerpt from an article by Leisa A. Bailey, PhD, I found what I consider to be one of the best definitions of confidence. Specifically, her reference to the fact that “true confidence” as she calls it, “welcomes alternative perspectives and opinions,” as well as having the ability to “show vulnerability.”

In creating your enduring brand, your ability to understand and adapt to the varied realities of those you seek to serve while still remaining true to who you are and what you believe is critical. Achieving this balance means that you are more interested in getting it right than being right. This is an important distinction.

While it seems clear that arrogance is rooted in a self-serving need to be right, the confident person whose brand reflects a self-assured humility takes pride in being part of a collective positive outcome. This means that the confident person is someone who is willing to take risks. They are willing to offer ideas and input that may on their own not pan out, but are nonetheless an important part of the collaborative process. In other words, someone who exudes confidence does not always have to be the one to come up with the idea or solution. Instead, these individuals are equally happy to contribute in whatever way they can to get the job done. Ultimately, they take personal satisfaction in helping to make other people the hero in their stories. By that, I mean that they set other people up for success.

Given that the NHL playoffs started this week, I could not help but draw a parallel in terms of the hockey player who assists another player in scoring a goal.

While the goal scorer certainly receives the immediate and focused recognition on the ice, the player who helped to set-up the score is also acknowledged. In fact, players receive a point for both goals and assists. To me this signifies the importance of playing both a supporting and primary role based upon given circumstances. If another player has an open shot on the net, you pass the pack. If you have the better shot, then you take the shot. The key here is to score the goal. While an arrogant person will likely put their scoring the goal ahead of everything else – even it is at the expense of the team – the confident, team-oriented player places greater emphasis on a goal being scored. It doesn’t matter who scores the goal, just as long as the puck ends up in the opposing teams net.

In Part 2, I will talk about knowing when to take the shot yourself, or pass the puck to a teammate.


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Warm regards,


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