Most people would probably agree that the consulting industry draws many highly intelligent individuals into its workforce. Consulting firms recruit sought-after graduates from some of the finest programs in the country, and the results of this effort are evident in their people. The awards and accomplishments of many of these individuals are astounding, as it seems impossible that an individual could achieve so much at such a young age. Accenture is no stranger to such individuals and as a Business Analyst I get to work with them on a daily basis. I have met colleagues who, by their mid-twenties, have already successfully established, expanded and sold their own companies. Interaction with such great thinkers is commonplace here, as well as at many other firms I’m sure. Personally I find this interaction to be very beneficial for my own development but, I must admit, I often let it get to my head. I find it’s easy to develop a bit of an ego in such an environment. It is in these inflated-ego moments that I sometimes make rash – not well thought out – decisions.
It seems intuitive to me that with intelligence and success should come confidence. Overcoming difficult odds gives me the self-assurance and encouragement to take on future challenges. However, I feel the line between confidence and arrogance is fine, and the sides couldn’t be more opposing. Arrogance is an unfounded sense of entitlement – the conviction that I know all the answers because I studied a textbook. It’s speaking when I should be listening. It’s defending when I should be acknowledging. And, unfortunately, it’s oftentimes a byproduct of the intelligence that may contribute to any success I may attain. But it doesn’t have to be.
It has always been my opinion that the great leaders of our time are the ones who never intend to be. These are the soft-spoken doers who work not for the credit, but rather for the sense of self-satisfaction they receive from a job well done. Taking contentment in receiving kudos certainly isn’t a bad thing – we are social beings after all. But personally, it’s the quiet confidence of humility that I strive for. To ever achieve this kind of humility in my own career and life, I must regularly remind myself to lose the swagger and always be open to others. No matter where I may be, valuable lessons from those around me are there for the taking – but only if I am willing to listen.