The Confidence Competence Effect

I gave a keynote talk on building confidence last week and there was a great deal of interest in the Confidence Competence Effect.

A number of research studies have shown that many people make the assumption that if you are confident you are also more competent.

This is extremely relevant if you want your ideas to be heard or be promoted but find it hard to communicate in a confident way.  Equally, if you are hiring people it’s easy to make the wrong decision and miss out on really great talent.

The Royal Statistical Society published an article on one piece of research done by Ben Smith and Jadrian Wooten from The School of Economic Sciences at Washington State University.  They used sports pundits in their research (2013) tracking responses using Twitter followership to ensure a statistically valid sample with a measurable end goal.

Essentially, it showed that the public appears to value confidence heavily and place a much smaller, although still positive, emphasis on accuracy.

Predicting every baseball game accurately would only result in a 3.5% increase in followership.  Being consistently confident by contrast would result in an almost 17% increase.  They believe it may be that humans dislike uncertainty and are prepared to trade off accuracy.

I’d like to say the confidence competence effect doesn’t apply to the highly technical or reflective industries we work with.

But we see that top medical consultants are simply not heard at conference if they lack confidence.  Scientific teams are drowned out by their more outwardly confident peers in budget meetings and engineers fail to help the company understand insights vital for the company’s future.

For leaders, it’s important to look beyond the obvious.  And for those appearing less confident it’s a skill area worth acquiring.  You can find a way of doing this in your own authentic style.

We coach confidence as a routine part of all our work.  You can build the genuine foundations for confidence in situations you find challenging and you can ‘fake it to make it’ while you’re working on creating the real thing. Contact us to find out more.

If you are an introvert or an ambivert, an inspiring book to read is Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Just Can’t Stop Talking.  She is a successful lawyer, an introvert and has some great advice.

One thought on “The Confidence Competence Effect

  1. I think there is an interesting flip-side to this around authenticity. Often we see people who demonstrate the confidence, but lack the authenticity to be effective as a leader. They essentially “fake it to make it” but then don’t develop the real thing – they are surface with no depth. For me, confidence is partly about how you communicate and partly built from within, and you need to be able to demonstrate both to be truly effective.

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