Blog

an overconfident leader

Frank is bright, confident, with an MBA from a top 25 and a long-track record of success. He moved up quickly and has a wall full of awards. He’s checked all the boxes: special assignments, line and staff jobs, late nights; but the last three promotions have gone to someone else. When he asks why, he’s told to “Be patient,” and that “Your time will come.” Hardly actionable feedback. He wants to DO something, so he goes on a self-promotion campaign, sharing his laundry list of reasons why he’s qualified. He reminds anyone that matters of his MBA, his contributions and his sacrifices. Frank wants to be sure it’s crystal clear that he deserves the next promotion.

The next promotional opportunity comes and goes.

This time he’s told why. “You’re driving everyone crazy.” “It’s all about you, not the work.” “You’ve got a sense of entitlement.” “You’re over-confident. Instead of asking how you can improve, you’re telling everyone why you don’t need to.”

Confidence without humility will sabotage your career.

7 Ways Overconfidence Will Sabotage Your Career

1. You Come Across as Entitled

Entitled, whiny, “What about me?” makes even the most competent and confident person look weak. Let your work and actions speak for themselves.

2. You Over-Rely on Past Strategy

It worked last time so you do it the same way. You move quickly, not stopping to consider that this situation or team is different. Lather, rinse, repeat is not a leadership strategy.

3. You Stop Learning

Lots of reasons for this. See these 60 reasons

4. You Stop Asking For Feedback

You think you know what to do and how to lead, so you stop asking for feedback. Leadership is never handled. Never stop asking.

5. You Under-Prepare

You’ve got this, it’s easy, so you back off the effort. You just didn’t anticipate what happened next.

6. You’ve Got No Plan B

You’re so confident you’re on the fast track, you stop networking or creating contingency plans. Never take your career path for granted.

7. You Ignore Data

When you think you know what to do, it’s easy to ignore data that doesn’t fit your plan. Great leaders have extraordinary peripheral vision.

Never underestimate the importance of confident humility.

Your turn. What are the biggest dangers of overconfidence?
Filed Under:   Career & Learning
 
 
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt
Karin Hurt helps leaders around the world achieve breakthrough results, without losing their soul. A former Verizon Wireless executive, she has over two decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR. She was recently named on Inc's list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers, AMA's 50 Leaders to Watch in 2015, & Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America. She’s the author of 2 books: Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss.
 

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

Karticv   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

Thanks for this insightful article. Lots of lessons that one tends to overlook, specially around why past successes will not hold good for ever, why its not about me but about we and also about no plan B.

Karin Hurt   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

Karticv, So great to have you join the conversation. Thanks for your insights. Hope you will continue to participate– love to have new voices.

Steve Borek   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

Many times politics plays a major part in who gets the promotion. Confidence or no confidence.

Karin Hurt   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

Steve, That is true….I’ve also found that it’s very important how you respond to those politics. If you start acting over-confident or under-confident it will only make matters worse. Thanks as always for your expanding the conversation.

Terri Klass   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

Great post, Karin with terrific points!

What I have seen a lot is that when people appear to be be over confident it is because they are insecure and feeling uncomfortable.

Looking inside and asking others for honest feedback can be so helpful when there is a disconnect with how you think you are being viewed.

Thanks Karin!

Karin Hurt   |   06 November 2014   |   Reply

Terri, That has been my experience as well. Sometimes what appears as overconfidence is really under confidence, that’s what makes this so tricky. Thank you.

Lisa Hamaker   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

I think that I rarely am overconfident, yet each of these speak to me. Am I delusional or human? Either way–great ideas to keep in mind. I am printing this to post on my wall! Thank you Karin.

Karin Hurt   |   06 November 2014   |   Reply

Lisa, Human for sure.

LaRae Quy   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

This is a great list, Karin!

For me, I think relying upon past successes has often given me a false sense of security. Often what worked before will also work in the future, but we can’t rely on it.

Being agile and flexible is truly the key to working our way through the inevitable roadblocks that will keep showing up in life. If we’re over-confident, we’re not going to know how to deal with them.

Karin Hurt   |   06 November 2014   |   Reply

LaRae, Thanks so much. After we’ve been around the blocks a few times, it’s easy to think we “know.” I’m with you, it’s so important to stay humble within our confidence.

Greg Marcus   |   05 November 2014   |   Reply

How you treat people trumps every accomplishment you’ve ever had. Arrogance held me back for a long time, and made me less happy to boot. Another great post Karin!

Karin Hurt   |   06 November 2014   |   Reply

Greg, So agree. Thanks for adding that!

Mitch Mitchell   |   06 November 2014   |   Reply

Now that’s interesting. I agree that overconfidence is a bad trait and can come across as arrogant. At the same time, I also understand that in today’s world, when people are getting passed over, that sometimes it’s because those in charge of making the decisions either forget or don’t know all the contributions someone has provided to the company. The book Brag! by Peggy Klaus talks about this. In your example I think leadership failed this guy by not telling him earlier what he needed to do to be considered for a promotion. Sure, it’s up to employees to ask those questions also, but I always feel that good leadership would have taken it upon themselves first.

Karin Hurt   |   06 November 2014   |   Reply

Mitch, Sounds like an interesting book. I think there’s a fine line between showcasing your accomplishments and going down the slippery slope of entitlement.

Manny Ambrocio   |   10 November 2014   |   Reply

Hi Karin,
What I experienced to be so troublesome is when a leader, taken into the organization thru internal politics (as mentioned by Mr. Steve Borek), naturally tends to become over-confident by virtue of higher level connections. As expected, becoming complacent and apathetic follows and that affects employee morale. The clout of an I, Me, Mine aura of leadership becomes irritating and counterproductive! As we commonly say, leaders like that oftentimes ASSUME.. A Sure System of Undermining Management Excellence resulting in a A Sad State of Undetermined Management Errors!

0 0items

Your shopping cart is empty.

Items/Products added to Cart will show here.