Monday, December 5, 2011

Your Own Significance

There can be a fine line between believing in yourself and believing only in yourself. I am clearly in the camp of those that feel self-confidence is an essential leadership trait. I struggle to follow those that are meek and soft-spoken, even if they are in significant positions of power.  Yes, I respect their role, but how does one inspire passion, innovation, risk-taking, and action when they appear to be scared of even the slightest confrontation or difficult decision? Not fair? Maybe, but I'm hard-pressed to identify a long list of effective leaders who are quiet.

Confidence is Good
So where is that proverbial fine line between confidence and arrogance? I'm constantly searching for it, and often only recognize it after I've crossed it. I hate when I do that, but I continue to do it anyway. Working with leaders who exude confidence in a down to earth way (rarefied air for sure!) is a pleasure.  In those few instances in my career when this has happened its had a profound impact on how I went about my work. Somehow that leader's style inspired me to work harder, try new things, and strive to replicate their behavior. I wonder if my behavior impacts how my team members go about their work?

Arrogance is Bad
Sadly, I've also learned several valuable lessons from less than effective leaders I've encountered over the years. None of them were bad people, they just struggled in a role that required leadership as a central responsibility of their job. This is where "leadership" gets tricky. 

All leaders must understand the business they are in (this is particularly important for HR if they are planning on contributing in any way); but if leadership is essential to the success of the company how can someone who is committed to them self before all others effectively lead?  I submit they can not. I bet if I asked you to name three ineffective leaders in your organization right now you could do it.  Why...

"Because we're all good at making excuses for why we won't take action instead of earning our pay as leaders and freeing our dedicated employees from weak members of the leadership team."

How About You
Self-confidence is a wonderful trait, and for those leaders who use it to make themselves, their teams and organizations stronger they can be truly inspirational. For those that are so convinced that they are essential to the very success of the organization above all others please take heed. You are setting the behavior you really want everyone to act the way you do?

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

pic courtesy of activerain


  1. I wrestle with arrogance versus confidence too. I am very modest and try to be humble but as a good friend pointed out, when I know something, I mean really know something my confidence is through the roof. And I know HR.

  2. Thanks for the perspective Chris. No doubt this is a challening issue!

  3. I am way too awesome for people to see me as arrogant...

  4. So true that the team emulates the leader's behaviour! A great reminder to "check" yourself every once in a while, especially when others are behaving in less than desirable ways... it might be something you're doing.

  5. Pam - many thanks for the comment. Whether we like it or not, the leader is the role model for the team!