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Naked Confidence – Why Competence Matters?

Ever met someone who seems incredibly confident but was clearly out of their depth in a given field of supposed expertise.  Maybe a politician, school teacher, client, boss or work colleague comes to mind.   The better way to describe the person exuding confidence but showing no depth of understanding is in fact as, arrogant. 

The fine line between confidence and arrogance is an important distinctive.  This distinctive is critical and is best defined by ones competence. 

Interestingly, you can have one without the other.

Shouting at the footy on the screen over the weekend I am completely confident that I know better than the umpire on the field.  Yet, in truth I have no skill, no experience and certainly no qualification to adjudicate a football match – in fact what I display in my fevered frenzy is really just arrogance dressed up as confidence. 

If you took the time to really look at the situation, peel back the bravado and strip back the animation and theatrics you would really see plain, ugly and bare naked arrogance. 

Once you are tuned to it,  locating instances of confidence without competence on display is easy. 

In contrast, however, are the instances of competence without confidence.  These are highly skilled, highly motivated, high output, low maintenance people.  They are human gold and they are the best asset to your organisation you have never heard of.  Why never heard of?  

Not because of a competency deficit but a confidence deficit.

Maybe it’s personality, maybe it’s social style, maybe it’s something else but they are not the ones to put themselves forward.  In the overwhelming noise of arrogance parading as confidence these people are easily overlooked and often misunderstood.  They may be quieter but they are smart.  They may not be as comfortable in board rooms, sales meetings or conference settings but they know every intricacy of the business at hand.  The may not be asked their opinion but they have one and you may be surprised at their considered position.

Sometimes though it is just a language deficit.  Consider that English is not the first language for more than one in five Australians.  This makes surviving the English speaking corporate world a battle zone for many in the workforce.  A battle that can leave competent, skilled and valuable people overlooked and undervalued.   

Turn down the noise.  Take a listen to those you may not have really given attention too.

Maybe you’ll find the competence you’ve been looking for and help them find the confidence they need to thrive in your organisation.

David Stennett
Managing Director ESL Tutoring Services
Educator and Encourager  | Creator of the 4wards Program