Your Driving Skills, Leadership Abilities and Lies

To tell the truth, we can be notorious poor judges of our own actions and accomplishments. It’s human nature to want to embellish in order to feel good or to protect ourselves from feeling bad. I mean, who doesn’t do that from time to time?

To that end, we exaggerate our stories and fudge an adjective here and there.  Most of us suffer from “self-enhancement bias.”

Did you know that 90 percent of drivers believe they have above-average driving skills? A study of nearly 1 million US high school seniors found that 70 percent reported they had above-average leadership skills. Only 2 percent said they had below-average skills.

This isn’t limited to young students, however; even experienced bosses  have over-inflated views of their leadership abilities. Very rarely do followers judge a leader as selfless and dedicated as they themselves do.

If you think yourself the rare boss who sees yourself as others do, you’re probably deluding yourself. You may be participating in what’s called illusory superiority, a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate their positive abilities and underestimate their negative qualities.

Most people believe they make more accurate self-assessments than their peers. But that’s just not true. There are numerous studies that show otherwise.

And unfortunately, the most incompetent bosses often suffer from the most inflated self-assessments of their abilities and performance. But even a little fudge, a slight embellishment can get you called out and ruin trust and credibility forever.

Positive illusions are defined as unrealistically favorable attitudes that people have towards themselves. There are three broad kinds:

  1. Inflated assessment of one’s own abilities
  2. Unrealistic optimism about the future
  3. An illusion of control

To me, that sounds like the “normal” mindset of the average manager. Perhaps this is a case of a little bit goes a long way.

I think most people want their managers to be positive, confident, optimistic and reassuring about cause and effect situations. I guess when it’s too far from the truth that it falls apart. What do you think?

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