published Monday, October 15th, 2012

Robin Smith: Confidence vs. arrogance

By Robin Smith

Books on leadership written by best-selling authors like management consultant Peter Drucker, Christian leadership coach John Maxwell and business consultant Jim Collins, among countless others, earn millions of dollars. Their writings attempt to fulfill our desire to know, embrace and implement characteristics of leadership that better prepare us for the workplace, the political arena and most any area of life.

A sampling of leadership quotes that ring true include:

• "Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes." — Peter Drucker

• "Leadership is about being a servant first." — U.S. Rep. Allen West

• "If you just set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing." — Lady Margaret Thatcher

Without exception, the characteristic of confidence is encouraged within the realm of leadership as a mandatory ingredient. The online magazine Inc. put it this way, "Trying to teach leadership without first building confidence is like building a house on a foundation of sand. ... While the leadership community has focused on passion, communication, and empowerment, they've ignored the most basic element."

Yet, we all know the stark contrast between confidence displayed and arrogance exposed. Yeah, that obvious difference between one who possesses that self-assurance and certainty that instills trust and reliability and the one whose self-regard is a lot grander than that of others, who typically reverts to manipulation through bullying for results and is skilled in finding a parade to jump in front of to quickly assume the lead.

A favorite picture that serves to remind me of the importance of servant leadership is accompanied by the quip, "If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know it didn't get there by itself."

The confident leader knows and appreciates that she achieved success and elevation on that fence post through collaboration, team work, a commitment to others and a tireless work ethic. A confident leader is more commonly focused on the long-term benefit of building valuable relationships and a willingness to share the credit and accept the blame with an attitude of humility.

The arrogant leader, in contrast, fails to work well with others and enjoys self-promotion. She is known for her overconfidence, disregard for long-range planning, habit of cutting corners and practice of opportunism in relationships.

Whether it's politics, your workplace, your circle of friends or even family, you've already assigned names and faces to these two sets of descriptions.

I recently chatted with an ambitious individual who has very admirable and aggressive goals. When asked why his path was set on such a high and short trajectory, the very quick response was, "Well, if you run with the dogs on the dog track, you can't run with the horses." The response offered a glimpse of disregard for those who work their way up through life and a seed of arrogance sprouting a nasty root.

We tend to have a glut of societal "turtles" who falsely believe that they can fly or leap tall buildings in a single bound. Let me know if you ever come across a true flying turtle. I want to read her book.

Robin Smith, a consultant at Rivers Edge Alliance, is a wife and mother living in Hixson. She served as the Tennessee Republican Party chairman from 2007 to 2009.

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hambone said...

Parroting such a radical as Allen West speaks volumes about ones version of LEADERSHIP!

October 15, 2012 at 2:28 p.m.
timbo said...

I like you Robin but the "servant leadership" thing is a myth. It takes a healthy ego to be a leader and it has nothing to do with being a "servant." Real leaders are born, not taught or "developed." This delusion that people have that their pursuit of leadership is because they want to "serve" is arrogance in itself and against human nature.

Most people are just fake leaders who want power and prestige without taking responsibility. The ranks of politicians are filled with this type. They kiss butt to get ahead in an organization replacing real ability with social maneuvering.

Another fake leader is the bureaucrat who wants power by adding people without producing any more.

Then there is the real leader who is decisive and embraces responsibility. He shares the credit but takes most of the blame. He is usually reluctant to take the lead but when they do, they take the ball and run. George Washington was that kind of leader. He could have been a king but left office in two terms.

Today, most real leaders are running small businesses and keeping out of the public eye. They don't want to deal with a political correct world in which the ants are ruling the elephants. When the time comes in a crisis they will step up, do the job the fade back into the background. Then the fake leaders will take over again and the downhill cycle will begin again.

October 15, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

Timbo, you're funny. It's amusing to see how important you think you are. Tell me, were you born with that insufferable, inflated ego of yours, or did it come as a revelation from God when he told you that you're the emobidiment of the Second Coming?

October 15, 2012 at 5:14 p.m.
timbo said...

Rickarro..... so what is it when you start pontificating? I was expressing an opinion that disagreed with the author. Just like when she gave her opinion about leadership. Just like you have done hundreds of times on this website.

Your problem is that like most liberals, instead of addressing the opinion you make a personal attack. I could care less what people like you think but your letter was a good example of how liberals attack.

You're just like bass going after a minnow. all I have to do lay it out there and you always take the bait.

October 16, 2012 at 9:13 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I didn't address Robin Smith's article because I couldn't care less about her opinion as to whether leaders are born or made. Of all the more relevant and topical things there are to write about, she chose to write this little fluff piece? It sounds like something right out of a dry, boring sales seminar. She must have been hard up for ideas.

As for "attacking" you...I'm so sorry, sir. Yes, it is indeed what we liberals do. I know that you conservatives never, ever stoop to such a level. You guys are way above that, aren't you? Henceforth I will try to refrain from such banality and indignity.

My liberal friends and comrades, I want you to listen up: Lord timbo hath spoken. I have learned a very important lesson. It's time we follow the model of our noble and high-minded conservative brethren and cease and desist from all personal attacks. I know it is a difficult thing to ask, so morally decrepit, communistic, godless, slothful, and prone to bottom-feeding are we. But with a little restraint and self-control, not to mention some help from above (if the good conservatives will only join in public prayer to God to touch our lives and lift us up to their level) I'm sure that we can succeed in becoming more like timbo and his conservative brothers and sisters - fair minded in all things, completely unbiased, and never stooping to attack.

Now, lead us forward, timbo! I believe the time of crisis is at hand and we little people await the leadership and inspiration of you and your business-owning cohorts, the "real" leaders of America and the world.

But wait...were you just laying bait for me again? Hmm...looks like you got me one more time, you clever little fisherman you. Gosh darn...another sign of a "real leader," I guess!

October 16, 2012 at 2:32 p.m.
Rickaroo said...

But seriously... a few weeks ago there was a letter to the editor from an ex-military guy who had won some medals and he was ranting about how certain other soldiers had just bought their medals without really earning them. That sucks, no doubt about it. But in the course of his letter he referred to himself as a "real hero," and there was something about hearing him use that term for himself that immediately struck me as repugnant. He might have indeed done some brave things on the battle field to have earned hero status, but something real heroes don't do is refer to themselves in that way. You just don't do it. It's like an unwritten code or something.

In wondering why it is that heroes and leaders don't, or shouldn't, refer to themselves as heroes or leaders, I think it's because there is a humility factor that goes hand in hand with being one or the other. A true leader has to be strong and assertive, for sure, but if he/she is so arrogant and assertive (not humble, in other words) about it, no one will want to follow them, or even listen to them. The moment someone opens his/her mouth and says, "I am a hero"...or "I am a leader," then the magic of whatever it is that makes them that is completely gone. Real heroes and leaders know enough to just shut up and lead with their actions. They don't ever have to resort to pointing out to others that they are the leader.

You say that most business owners prefer to avoid the spotlight and the public eye - and that is probably true - but when you put yourself in the class of "real leaders" who step up, just by virtue of being a business owner, then you merely come across as the arrogant blow-hard that you are. You might like to think that you're a "real leader," but...all I can say is, enjoy your fantasy.

October 16, 2012 at 4:01 p.m.
timbo said...

Rickaroo....What in the hell are you?....And by the way, you just described about 100% of all politicians, including your piss ant God Obama, because they all claim to be leaders. They buy on air time claiming they are leaders. Obama is everything you described. He is arrogant, not humble, what about him? Does he fit your description or is that only for people you don't agree with?

I never claimed to be a hero, but I do lead my business. Unlike Obama, and probably you, at least there is tangible proof that I have led at least SOMETHING. Obama never had a real job. President Piss Ant is an insult to people like me. Maybe we should call him the "Leader of the Loser's."

So before you pontificate again and again, looking for some new angle to insult someone...why don't you look in the mirror at that hypocrite looking back at you.

Next time your hero Obama claims to be a hero for pushing a button for a bomb to drop on someone or send the SEALS in to kill someone, why don't you send him the same thing you just wrote above. Why don't you lecture him about being humble? Yea..I thought so big mouth.

October 18, 2012 at 1:38 p.m.
Leaf said...

Some people are born leaders. That doesn't mean that they are wise or lead in the right direction.

Some people don't have what we think of as a leadership personality, but they are very good at managing. I've worked at several companies, and sometimes the charismatic CEO actually hurt the company. Sometimes the intelligent low-key CEO made very good decisions. I don't believe that there is a particular personality "type" that always succeeds or always fails in leadership positions.

October 19, 2012 at 10:49 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

I might be lots of things, timbo, but I'm not a hypocrite. I don't claim to be holier or morally superior to anyone, nor do I claim to be anything I'm not. As for Obama, I have never looked upon him as a "hero" or a "God" or anyone other than a mere man who happened to be elected our president. I think he's done some pretty good things and made some good decisions and I think he's made some bad ones. If I have defended him on occasion it's only because you Obama haters are so relentless in your hatred of him that you have lost all sense of fairness and objectivity.

But I defer to your greatness, my liege. Whatever you say, it must be so. Afterall, you are the empire builder, the true leader, a man among men. What am I but a mere tree-hugging, quiche-eating, Chardonnay-drinking, bleeding-heart, dreamy-headed liberal? I admit that I know nothing in comparison to the bottomless depths of your knowledge and experience. Thus I humble myself and bow before you...Lord Timbo.

October 20, 2012 at 12:58 p.m.
timbo said...

Rickarro....You finally got something right.

October 22, 2012 at 3:25 p.m.
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