We are our own worst enemy.

In my last post I discussed how I fell victim to Impostor Syndrome, and how I eventually dealt with it.

The response to the topic (mostly on Twitter) was great.

I learned a lot.

I learned about the Dunning–Kruger effect which according to Wikipedia is:
"a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to recognize their mistakes. 
The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. 
Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, 'the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others'"
Essentially, the more you know, the more you realize you don't know.  According to Kruger and Dunning, we have a tendency to overestimate our knowledge and ability if we are unskilled in a particular area.

I see it all the time in the workplace. People take on projects and soon find themselves overwhelmed by complexity, or do a less than optimal job.  (If I look at the wiring renovation in my home done by a previous owner, I'd say he was in this category).

Conversely, those who are skilled can fall victim to underestimating their skill and ability, and may convince themselves that they are frauds and posers - the Impostor Syndrome

I also was reminded about the Fundamental Attribution Error. I had heard about the Fundamental Attribution Error before from Patrick Lencioni in his book Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team.

This is where we explain the behaviors of others differently than we explain our own.  For example, if I saw a person back into another car in a parking lot, I would think they were a poor driver who doesn't pay attention.  If I happen to back into another car, then I would think that somebody parked their car in the wrong place. (Note: this is an example.  If you notice a fresh dent on your car, it wasn't me!)

This type of thinking creates a problem for effective leadership. We are not being honest about ourselves, or others.

All of this interaction reminded me of a great book I read about 10 years ago - Why Smart People Do Dumb Things: The Greatest Business Blunders - How They Happened, and How They Could Have Been Prevented
It is well worth locating a copy of this book and giving this a read.

All of this to say - your thinking can sabotage your leadership. It influences the quality of your decisions and undermines your authenticity as a leader.

Self awareness for any leader is foundational.  I previously posted on this topic in CIO Know Thyself.

Don't say you weren't warned.


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