1. Hader, Richard RN, CHE, CPHQ, NE-BC, PhD, FAAN

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Arrogance and confidence are often used synonymously, but they're incredibly different adjectives that yield opposite results. Confident leaders inspire direct reports to believe and trust in them; arrogant leaders disenfranchise staff members, resulting in organizational chaos. Confidence is gained through humble learned experiences, whereas arrogance develops through an overinflated ego and sense of self-worth.

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Humility is the dividing line between confidence and arrogance. To be a leader, you must be confident in your ability to make critical decisions and interact well with others and be knowledgeable in your area of expertise. Humility allows you the ability to continue to learn from your staff, colleagues, and peers. Recognize that you're fallible, seek guidance and counsel from others with more experience, and always treat people with dignity and respect, regardless of their role in the organization. Caution, though: Don't be too modest because this behavior might be interpreted as a weakness and viewed as noncontributory to the organization.


Although many arrogant leaders are very successful, they'll quickly be forgotten. They'll leave behind an unflattering legacy because they thought first of the needs of themselves rather than the needs of others. True leadership is built on the foundation of cultivating relationships, pulling people together, and inspiring them to succeed. A confident leader enjoys the achievements of her staff more than her own accolades. When a leader's needs, desires, and wants are more imperative to fulfill than those of her staff, it's time for that leader to rethink her priorities or she'll be leading without followers.


A distinguishing feature between an arrogant and confident leader is the ability to take action and consistently perform. A confident leader will help her staff achieve, whereas an arrogant leader will articulate a promising message but fail to deliver. Confidence is getting the job done; arrogance is boasting about it.


Is arrogance a personality trait used to cover up insecurity? Demeaning, bullying, or insulting the contributions of others to build your own repertoire will destroy your staff members' ability to be innovative and take risks to improve the productivity or quality of the work. Don't worry about singing your own praises because if you work hard and do the job right, others will compliment your abilities. It's vital not to victimize your staff because you feel vulnerable. Team members will help each other if they believe their contributions will be appreciated by their leader and colleagues.


A confident leader can build a team as quickly as an arrogant leader can destroy it. Taking credit for others' work, making yourself the center of attention, and not recognizing and rewarding your staff will produce a counterproductive environment. As a leader, your greatest assets in building a successful team are those who work with you. Ideas and innovation must be brought forward by those who complete the daily work. Fostering mutual respect will produce cohesion and ultimately impact the quality of the final product.


Some might interpret your confidence as arrogance if you don't portray your accomplishments appropriately. Remember, as the conductor of an orchestra following a stellar performance, it's gracious to take a bow after first acknowledging those who played the symphony.


Richard Hader


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