Overconfidence is a tendency to hold a false and misleading assessment of our skills, intellect, or talent. (Corporate Finance Institute)
Now, more than ever, confidence is important. It encourages your team, customers, and communities to follow your lead. But problems arise when you are overconfident. This occurs when you fail to understand that business is not the same as usual and fail to adjust for the “new normal.”
A leader worked in an IT company that had great financial success during 2020. But when he oversold a new project, the team balked when he shared the requirements! His overconfidence failed to consider the team was unwilling to come into the office and go into the customer’s office to work on it. The added challenge was, he lacked the skills to manage the new project virtually. He listened to his mentor and reached out to his coach. He got the help he needed. He learned a lot and learned how to brag about his skills in a business-savvy manner rather than be overconfident.
Remember, we’re in a new normal…what you did before may not work today. So, stop, listen, and welcome new ideas. Then, transform how you manage your team, projects, and results asap.
6 Tips to Develop Healthy Confidence
Be aware of your communication style is important. Learn to be aware of words or actions that signal you’re being overconfident (e.g., “I’ve got this handled!” “I never fail!” “This always works.”). Work with your coach to see what you may be stepping over or failing to address when this happens.
Be honest about your skills. Take the time to conduct an accurate assessment of yourself and learn about your blind spots. Work with your coach and use objective data from scientifically validated job-fit assessments. These tools guide you to go beyond how you want to be seen. Instead, they help you discover what it’s like to work with you from the team’s perspective!
Stop comparing yourself with others. Too often, we blame others for mistakes they make, but excuse our own! Develop your emotional intelligence (EI). Learn how to use compassion and empathy to work through mistakes and learn from them. This strengthens your ability to achieve intended results.
Test your assumptions before declaring your decisions. When we make decisions based on fragments of information, we’re often wrong. Develop your critical thinking by deep diving into the factual pros and cons. Use your network to test your assumptions. Remember, 90% of the world’s information is in people’s heads, not the internet!
Listen to others’ feedback and concerns. Leaders welcome brainstorming and hearing others’ ideas. Learn how to manage healthy disagreements and ensure all team members can express their concerns and ideas. Remember, a healthy skepticism will save your career and the financial impact of a bad decision. Most importantly, learn to listen to what you don’t want to hear to improve your results.
Recognize when it’s the right time. While many ideas may work with modifications, it may not be the right time or place to put them into action. Avoid using circular logic to push through ideas your business and customers are not ready to handle.
How to Work with Overconfident Leaders
Stay aware and mindful in conversations. Listen up when your leader is sharing a decision s/he is making or about to make. It will impact you, your project, team, and budget, either directly or indirectly. Ask open-ended questions for clarification rather than debating the leader’s decision.
Stand up and speak up. When leaders are overconfident, we tend to question our own point of view. (Harvard Business Review) Stop! Be assertive and have a conversation armed with the facts. Remember, diplomacy is critical. While you may be right, overconfident leaders will ignore you when their ego feels threatened. The outcome of these types of conversations can impact your future projects and results as well.
If the leader’s idea or assertion does not impact you, avoid confrontation. Choose which issues to pursue. If you confront every issue, the leader and team will stop listening to you. Instead, address major issues that will impact you from a win-win-win perspective.
©Jeannette Seibly, 2019-2021
Jeannette Seibly is The Leadership Results Coach. She has been an award-winning executive coach and keynote speaker for 28 years. She is an expert in guiding leaders and their teams to get unstuck and achieve dynamic results. Contact Jeannette for a confidential conversation.
A Note About Being an Overconfident Leader from Jeannette. It’s not business as usual. During this new normal, take the time to develop your emotional intelligence (EI). Skills include listening, critical thinking, and managing virtually. Developing these skills now will impact the quality of your results, today and tomorrow.