Arrogance versus confidence
Good director's have to be arrogant, at times

Arrogance versus confidence

“The candidate came across as a little arrogant.” 

That’s a comment we occasionally hear from our clients as a reason for not hiring a candidate. And sometimes when I hear that comment, I ask myself, “I wonder what they said to be deemed arrogant?”

From experience, we know that one person’s perceived arrogance is another’s perceived confidence. Two people can view the same interaction differently, but I would contend that arrogance is sometimes a needed leadership skill in healthcare management.

Successful directors need some arrogance

When I relay interview feedback from a client to a candidate, I will ask the candidate their perception of the interview. Usually, it’s positive. Often, they cannot recall a specific instance where the interview may have gone awry. But, sometimes it is not a single instance where an interview has gone wrong. Sometimes, a candidate’s perceived arrogance is a gut feeling of the interviewer that accumulates over the entirety of the discussion.

It makes sense, of course, because interviews can be tense. Formal dress, a quiet room, a potential 6-figure opportunity lying in wait: Stress gets ratcheted up and personalities change. Does pressure trigger arrogance?

It could, which makes it difficult to determine the exact spot where confidence crosses over the line to become arrogance. Jennifer Houston, writing on womanitely.com, surmises that attitude is one of the differences between confidence and arrogance. https://womanitely.com/ways-difference-arrogant-confident/.

Jennifer’s use of the term attitude is interesting to me. As managers and directors, we know that attitude is not a basis for an employee performance discussion. If you tell an employee their attitude stinks, gear up for an argument as they will inevitably ask, perhaps loudly, what are you talking about!?

There is an observable behavior in every attitude. In the interview environment, unlike the performance discussion environment, that observable behavior may be use of the term I and them by the interviewee. 

If you use the term I to take credit and not we to spread credit, you may be labeled arrogant.

If you use the term them to assess blame and not I to accept blame, you may be labeled arrogant. 

In healthcare facilities management, it is critical for leaders to convey confidence. Hospitals and their offsite properties are life-sustaining ships, and when a boiler goes down in the middle of a winter’s night, you better have a leader who is confident, perhaps arrogant, getting systems and equipment up and running quickly, safely. 

It can be a fine line to walk, but if you are a leader who preaches and practices we and us to spread credit, occasional arrogance is overlooked and can be a necessary leadership skill in healthcare management.

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