I have a couple questions for you – How are your driving skills? How smart are you? How are your people skills?
Most likely you answered something to the effect of ‘above average’. And you’re not alone.
- 93% of Americans believe they have above average driving skills.*
- 87% of MBA students at Stanford University rated their academic performance as above the median.*
- 96% of leaders today believe they have above average people skills, according to a study by the Stanford University School of Business.
So it appears we are overconfident in our abilities. A majority of us believe we are smarter, more dependable, and just plain better than others.
Let’s get real here; that viewpoint is delusional. We cannot all be superior and extraordinary.
Managers with this rosy vision of themselves often lack self-awareness, which could lead to a significant cultural disconnect in the workplace. While self-awareness is perhaps one of the least discussed leadership competencies, it is also one of the most valuable.
Maybe you are not tuned in to how your emotions affect your behavior, particularly toward other people in the workplace. You may inadvertently antagonize people without realizing what you are doing. In short, too little understanding of your emotions might result in over or under emphasizing important concerns, and could ultimately turn into a career derailer.
The ability to see in yourself what others see in you is not easy. It takes courage to look in the mirror, impartially judge what you see, and make efforts to improve.
Of course, to stay ahead of the curve you’ll want more than just a look in the mirror – you’ll want other viewpoints. Soliciting feedback from peers, subordinates, and supervisors is a recommended best practice, and invaluable in today’s workplace. Feedback will give you insights into your communication skills, project management capabilities, and much more.
Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? Asking others what they think about you? Keep this in mind though — these individuals already have their opinions; so, wouldn’t you rather know what they’re thinking (and saying) behind your back? I would.
Getting a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses will benefit both you and the organization.
So what if you find out you’re just average? You’re in good company.
Svenson, O. (1981). Are we all less risky and more skillful than our fellow drivers? Acta Psychologica, 47, 143-148.
Stanford GSB Reporter (2000). It’s Academic, 14-15.
Alicke, Mark D.; Olesya Govorun (2005). The Better-Than-Average Effect. In Mark D. Alicke, David A. Dunning, Joachim I. Krueger. The Self in Social Judgment. Studies in Self and Identity. Psychology Press. pp. 85–106.