First thing you should know as you begin reading this is that you must accept that you will be considered one or the other no matter what you do. The second thing you should know is; that is a good thing.
In leadership, you must always walk a fine line between cocky and confident. Your mission should always be, once you step away from a group of people you are leading, half of the group will think to themselves “That guy/girl is so cocky” – the other half should be thinking “He/she is so confident”. They will think this because you portray a little of each in how you give direction, how you carry yourself, your decision making ability, the list goes on and on. Being “overly confident” is simply a nice way of saying someone is cocky. Cockiness in and of itself will tear at the fibers of unit cohesion and eventually destroy morale and productivity. For this reason it is important not to cross over that line into the area of being labeled by all as cocky.
How do we do this? The answer is humility. Someone who is cocky will not admit their wrongs. They cannot accept their faults and therefore are limited in their growth as a leader. This is transparent to those they lead and precisely why their behavior tears down an organizations synergy. A leader who is confident possesses humility and is far more approachable. Humility is not weakness and should never be viewed as such. Humility as a leader is nothing more than being able to listen to those he/she leads for other ideas or points of view in order to devise a more complete plan.
As I mentioned in the beginning, there will be a percentage of those you lead who will always view you as nothing more than cocky. You have to accept this and not become insecure about it. Usually people in this group suffer from their own insecurities, lack humility and are stunted in their growth potential. Just make sure there is no truth in what they are thinking of you in this regard. A confident yet humble leader inspires those they lead. They feed off of that leader’s confidence while in turn admiring his/her humility. Walk this line and you will gain the respect of those you are leading. Once a group of people respect you in this capacity, they will follow you.