How Do We Grow Confidence as a Leader Without Becoming Arrogant?


Last night the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship and Giannis Antetokounmpo was awarded the well-deserved MVP title. Just a few days before their big win, SPEARity CEO Darren Fisher shared a few thoughts around a quote from the MVP.

“When you focus on the past, that’s your ego. When I focus on the future, that’s my pride. I try to focus in the moment, in the present. That’s humility, that’s being humble.” – Giannis Antetokounmpo

Darren mentioned the importance of being able to learn from the past. Our past successes help us to build our confidence which helps us to experience more success in the present and future. So, where do we draw the line? How do we gain confidence from our past successes without crossing the line into arrogance as a leader?

The Importance of Recognizing Your Success

Before we jump into some of the ways that we can avoid becoming arrogant as a result of our success, let’s talk about the importance of taking time to recognize success.

An important part of the SPEAR process is taking time each day to document the successes that you had. There are many different reasons why this is important. One of those reasons is that being able to recognize the success that we have helps us to grow confidence as we move forward.

It’s common for new leaders and managers to struggle with their confidence. Imposter syndrome can make us feel like we’re not qualified to be  in the role that we are in. And if we don’t take time to recognize areas that we’re succeeding, self-doubt can creep in and get in the way of us accomplishing the things that we need to.

When we take the time to acknowledge the success that we have, it helps give us that boost and encouragement that we need to work on overcoming the next challenge. 

 So, while it is possible for our ego to get in the way if we focus too much on our past successes, we don’t want to ignore them either. They can play an important role in your ability to grow as a leader and to help those below you grow as well.

Tips to avoid becoming arrogant as a leader

Now that you know why it’s important to take the time to recognize your successes, let’s talk about the importance of making sure you don’t become arrogant because of that. Here’s a few reasons why you don’t want to become arrogant:

  • Arrogant leaders lose the respect of those that follow them.
  • People don’t like interacting with arrogant people.
  • It’s easy to miss the mark when you have a self-inflated ego.
  • Arrogant leaders push others away without realizing it.
  • You fail to continue growing because you don’t see room for improvement.

That’s definitely not the type of leader you want to be. So, here are a few tips to help you avoid becoming arrogant as a leader.

Look at the complete picture

Along with documenting your successes, the SPEAR process has you document the failures that you experience each day. This can be a hard thing for people to start doing because some of us have always had a negative view of failure.  We don’t want to acknowledge that we failed because it makes us feel like a failure. But that’s not the case.

There are plenty of stories  and examples of how highly successful people view failure as learning opportunities instead of something that needs to hold them back.

By taking the time to view your failures as well as your success each day, not only does it help you be more successful in the long run, but it can help you keep your ego in check. If all you’re doing is documenting your successes, it’s easy to start to think that you can do no wrong. But when you are continually looking for ways that you can improve, it helps you see that you’re not perfect. 

Celebrate the success of your team

If you’ve ever had a manager that takes credit for the work of the team, you know just how frustrating that can be. You don’t want to be the leader that has a self-inflated ego based off of the work of others. As you take time to recognize the success that you had in your day, make sure that you take time to think about the role that others are playing in your success. Think about who else deserves credit for the success of that day.

Not only will this help you avoid boosting your own ego too much, it can help you show gratitude to your team. Take time to send a quick email or text to thank your team for the work that they did. Share and celebrate the success as a team. You are not succeeding on your own. Gratitude goes a long way in keeping the ego from over-inflating. 

Study your success 

It can also be helpful to break your success down and analyze why you were successful in that area. Outside of just the team members that help you succeed, what things went right that led to the success. Look for the process confidence instead of self-confidence. What steps did you take that you can replicate to have success again in the future.

Chances are really good that you weren’t successful at the things in the day just because you are this perfect leader who knows everything you need to know. It’s that somewhere along the way you learned the stuff that needed to be done to succeed in that area. It might be something that you would already learned in the past or it may be a new system that you were trying out. Look for the processes behind the success and credit the process and not just yourself.

Listen to others

A good sign that you are dealing with too much pride andan ego problem is when you stop listening to other people. If you think you are the guru of your area that doesn’t have anything left to learn, you’re being arrogant. There is always something that you can learn by listening to others, including members of your team.

Make time to listen to the ideas of the people who work with you. And this includes the  supporting members of your team, it’s not just about senior-level management. Often the people who work in the day-to-day details of your business we’ll see ways that the workflow can be improved that you may be missing. But if you’re too arrogant to listen to them, you’re never going to learn it. 

Encourage coaching

Another way to be confident while not being arrogant is to welcome coaching and mentorship into your life and business. Remember, there are always ways that you can be improving and growing as an individual and leader. Working with a leadership development coach can be a great way to keep all areas in check as you move forward.

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