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Are you confident or arrogant?

Suzy Welch: A simple quiz can help you determine if your ego is hurting your success at work

Maybe you’ve seen this unfold in your workplace. Some people, given more responsibility, rise to the challenge. They build new skills, take on bigger projects, and stretch themselves to meet the demands of their new role.

But others respond differently to a taste of success. They act exclusively in their own interest, talk over people, and curtail others’ advancement. To sum up this dilemma, bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch quotes her husband, former GE CEO Jack Welch: “Success makes some people grow, and it makes some people swell.”

“Stars, you must make sure you’re in the former category,” she tells CNBC Make It. “People who grow exude a healthy self-confidence. They’re learners, builders and team players, and because of that, their career tends to keep soaring.”

Meanwhile, Welch says, “people who swell — all they are is arrogant, which gets old fast, and thus, is usually a one-way ticket to self-destruction.”

One time use: Suzy Welch brown blazer
CNB Contributor Suzy Welch

To help you determine which category you fall into, Welch developed the following quiz:

1. Do you spend more time thinking about…

A. Your next promotion

B. The career growth of the people who work with you

“Answer A,” says Welch, “is for arrogant in this case, because arrogant people are so me, me, me.” On the other hand, she says, “self-confident people are you, you, you, which, for every reason under the sun, including trust and loyalty, is better, better, better.”

2. In meetings do you usually…

A. Urge subordinates or colleagues to jump in and answer questions

B. Jump in and answer every question yourself

If you’re someone who loves the sound of your own voice, Welch says, “that’s a surefire red flag that you are too focused on yourself.”

3. If someone on your team is smarter than you are, do you think…

A. How great!

B. How annoying

“Self-confident people love being around those who expand their thinking and up the performance bar for everyone,” says Welch. Meanwhile, arrogant people “don’t think anyone is smarter than they are, and it bugs them that other people do.”

As a result, she says, “instead of listening to their intelligent teammates, they try to shut them down or shove them out,” which is, ultimately, “team killing and self-defeating.”

Though this type of personal analysis can be challenging, Welch emphasizes that it’s essential to your future professional success. And arrogance, she says, isn’t actually all that difficult to unlearn.

After all, “it’s all in your head.”

Suzy Welch is the co-founder of the Jack Welch Management Instituteand a noted business journalist, TV commentator and public speaker. Think you need Suzy to fix your career? Email her at

Video by Helen Zhao


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