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Interesting story in the Wall Street Journal about a survey of more than a thousand front line managers that suggests that “many are over-estimating their skills, with surprisingly little self-doubt. Seventy-two percent said they never questioned their ability to lead others in their first year as a manager.

“Managers were also unlikely to rate themselves as weak in a number of leadership attributes, such as planning, communication and adaptability, according to the study by consulting firm Development Dimensions International Inc.

“Front-line managers believe that their biggest strengths are in setting work standards and planning and organizing, according to the survey.”

In fact, according to the survey, no more than 15 percent of those questioned said that they needed to develop their skills in areas such as delegating and coaching.

The numbers are reminiscent of the documentary Waiting for Superman which in its criticisms of the American educational system observed that US students rank low in almost every category...except self-confidence.

There is a point, of course, where self-confidence morphs into arrogance.

Mark Twain once said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

It is a fair bet that the executives and managers who are brimming with confidence in their leadership may not be overestimating their own abilities. But it also falls to the companies that employ them - and the people to whom they report - to figure out where the shortcomings lie and with whom.

And then, of course, disabuse these execs of their overconfidence/arrogance, and bring them along on the path to enlightenment.

In other words, open their eyes.

- Kevin Coupe
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