The Real Truth About Arrogant Employees

We’ve all met an arrogant person at work: the one who considers themselves superior, makes condescending remarks to tear others down, or refuses to admit their own mistakes. The arrogant person has low emotional intelligence and works from a position of bluster and fear. When an arrogant person is in a power position, the team becomes fearful, often resentful and growth, productivity and creativity suffer.

We’ve all met a confident person at work: the one who considers themselves talented, encourages others to succeed and is quite willing to admit their own mistakes. The confident person has high emotional intelligence and works from a position of calm and positive strength. When a confident person is in a power position, the team becomes confident and motivated, and growth, productivity and creativity take the team to new heights.

Arrogant leaders breed arrogant leaders by example, confident leaders breed confident leaders by example. It’s not just arrogance in leaders that upsets the office apple cart; an arrogant person in a more junior role can also pollute the atmosphere and damage morale.


Two arrogant business people (man / woman)


Generally, arrogance is (painfully) obvious to the people around them; however, some people mistake arrogance for confidence- when in reality the two are poles apart. Knowing the difference is important not only so that you can hire and promote the right people for a winning team, but also so that you can notice and deal with any signs of arrogance in yourself.

Yes, that’s right, you. Are you arrogant? Perhaps you’re arrogant in one aspect of your life, even if you’re not generally an arrogant person. Maybe you’ve learnt bad habits from an arrogant leader, or are arrogant at work because you feel insecure, and think that being dominant and interrupting people is a sign you’re a strong leader.

If that’s you, don’t worry: most of us have shown arrogance at some point, and lots of us learnt it from past leaders. To admit past arrogance is actually a sign of confidence and the first step in replacing arrogance with true confidence.

Arrogance and confidence, despite sometimes appearing similar, actually come from opposite ends of the self-worth spectrum. Arrogance is the strong belief or show of superiority, but its true source is fear and low self-esteem. It seems like a paradox: how can someone that constantly talks about how good they are suffer from low self confidence? But when you look at the behaviours shown, it becomes clear.


The arrogant person:

  • Cares deeply what the world thinks about them; leading to them boasting and projecting.
  • Puts others down to make themselves look and feel better.
  • Fears others being good at what they see as their personal talent.
  • Doesn’t like change as it upsets their sense of dominance.
  • Cannot accept their own mistakes and flaws, and will often blame others for them.


Handsome Happy Man Pointing Himself


The confident person:

  • Doesn’t worry about what the world thinks; they have an innate sense of self worth.
  • Likes to encourage others, and enjoys seeing others succeed as they don’t think that minimises their own achievements in any way.
  • They accept that others will be better than them at certain things, and want to learn from them.
  • They are willing to own their own mistakes and flaws.


Recruitment office meeting


The danger of arrogance in the workplace is not just making life difficult for others, but it also stifles growth and creativity. Arrogant people generally have fixed mindsets, believing that the way they do things now is the best or only way. This type of person doesn’t adapt easily and tends to stifle creativity in other team members- meaning that the team stops innovating. On the other hand, a confident person has a growth mindset, always looking for the next big idea and fostering creativity in others.

There is a world of difference between arrogance and confidence in the workplace. Once you recognise that it comes down to people having different levels of innate self worth, you can assist those showing arrogance to grow real confidence, hire truly confident people, and also watch out for any signs of arrogance in yourself.

Until next time,


Julia Carter