Executive Coaching and Dunning-Kruger Effect

Executive Coaching and The Dunning-Kruger Effect: How overestimating your knowledge and abilities could affect your career

What is the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

Executive Coaching and The Dunning-Kruger Effect: How overestimating your knowledge and abilities could affect your career.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a psychological phenomenon that refers to the tendency of people to overestimate their own capabilities and knowledge. It’s named after two psychologists, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, who published a paper in 1999.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias that leads people to think they are more competent, knowledgeable or skilled than they actually are. As such, they may make decisions which are not not reflective of reality or supported by evidence and sound facts.
Often people who overestimate their expertise, knowledge or competence may display low levels of competence and a false sense of high confidence. However, when they or others, become aware of gaps in their expertise they lose confidence due to fear of judgment and rejection and because they realise they haven’t understood the complexities of the topic. If they are open-minded and willing to work on their growth points, they will start to invest time, energy and focus into developing knowledge around this specific subject, and in time, their confidence and expertise will begin to develop and increase.

Why overestimate your confidence?

You may feel an intense pressure to overestimate your competency due to the following examples. You may have been promoted or acknowledged based on your previous experience, skill, knowledge and performance, but these may now either be outdated, or not related to the current requirements or situation. Alternatively you may develop a false sense of confidence due to your employment longevity, career complacency, reputation, politics or popularity. Competing with others to establish your place within the organisation may encourage you to ‘fake it until you make it’. Fear of rejection and judgment can also send you into survival mode. You may also perceive constructive criticism as negative and so don’t feel the need to develop your growth points.

How can the Dunning-Kruger Effect affect your career?

So how could the the Dunning-Kruger Effect affect your career? It can lead to a false sense of  overconfidence, lack of detail, poor performance and decision making. It can also lead to a lack of critical thinking and a resistance to learning new information. Individuals may be prone to micromanage others and firefight situations. They may also be reluctant to listen to others, be aware of all the facts, and avoid delegation. These responses might not only affect their own careers but also impact team trust, confidence, morale, turnover and reputation.

How can you manage and overcome the Dunning-Kruger Effect?

The best way to counter the Dunning-Kruger Effect is to be aware of it. Acknowledge that you may not be as knowledgeable as you think you are and be open to learning new things. Organisation feedback, 360 degree feedback, reviews, investment in coaching, mentoring and development and an open and positive cultural mindset towards developing strengths and growth points also supports employees with engagement, confidence, direction, performance and career development.

If you would like to focus on developing your strengths, growth points and invest in your career development and advancement then why not connect with me for trusted professional coaching and leading executive coaching in London. Embrace your highest potential and become the best version of yourself!