The Relationship between Confidence and Leadership Success

The journey to authentic leadership through the eye-opening examination of Self-Deception is amazing.  The results — a Heart at Peace.

The reward of having a heart at peace leaves you feeling right with the world. I learned this from my personal journey through my own self-deception. We encounter our blind spots daily, so there is always work to be done. After all, we are human beings.


In business psychology, the prevailing wisdom has assumed that a high degree of self-confidence leads to promotion and leadership success. Studies, however, propose otherwise, writes business psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic in Less-Confident People Are More Successful (Harvard Business Review blog, July 2012).

According to this blog post, a moderately low level of self-confidence is more likely to make you successful, Dr. Chamorro-Premuzic asserts. Don’t confuse this with a very low degree of self-confidence. Excessive fear, anxiety and stress will inhibit performance, impede decision-making and undermine interpersonal relationships.

What does a moderately low level of self-confidence look like?

It causes you to pay attention to negative feedback and to be self-critical.
You are open to learning and improving. Most of us tend to listen to feedback and ignore the negative in favor of the positive. If you want to manage deficits, you must listen to both positive and negative comments.

It motivates you to work harder and prepare more effectively.
You pay attention to the gap between the status quo and your professional goals. You will work with your strengths to fill and/or manage the gaps.

It reduces your chances of appearing arrogant or delusional.
People with lower levels of self-confidence are more likely to admit their mistakes instead of blaming others — and they rarely take credit for others’ accomplishments.

If you’re serious about becoming a strong leader, moderate self-confidence can serve as a strong ally, inspire you to pay closer attention, help you to manage limitations and keep you humble.

In the work I do with leaders, I have found that most come across as moderately self-confident. They are seeking to be more effective in their leadership, more inspirational and influential. They are open to becoming confidently vulnerable and grounded in their strengths. And yet, when they pause to look at their blind spots and areas of self-deception, they find there is room to ask questions, to learn from others, and to build better connections with the people who matter, the people who do the work that matters.

Consider this: when you’re courageous enough to question your own behavior and motives, you extend the privilege to others. We model the behaviors we wish to see in others. That is truly a strong leadership quality.

Avoiding blame and judgment opens the door to cooperation, productivity and interdependence.

Help yourself and your staff by:

  1. Reading Arbinger’s Leadership and Self-Deception.
  2. Working with a leadership coach trained to pinpoint areas of self-deception and blind spots.
  3. Asking yourself, “What is my part in any given problem?”
  4. Identifying ways to set aside your ego for the sake of the greater whole in achieving optimum results.

I hope this series has been helpful. If you are interested in taking a deep dive into Leadership and Self-Deception let me know. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences with these issues.



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