Overconfident + Incompetent = Successful? - Puris Consulting
Overconfident + Incompetent = Successful?

Written by Katy Goshtasbi

Posted on: August 14, 2022

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Overconfident + Incompetent = Successful?, image of a person standing on the edge of a cliff

Twenty years ago at my last job as a lawyer, I started to notice a scary trend: there were many (too many) people who kept getting promoted when we all knew they were not the brightest nor best suited for the new job they were promoted into.

What gave?

Turns out, these people all shared 2 traits in common linked to their status and prestige:

They were incompetent AND overly confident.

Apparently, overconfidence allows you to attain higher social status because you’re motivated by higher and higher status. This motivation allows you to bypass your legitimate fears around being competent. People in organizations buy your overconfidence without even bothering to size up your competence. And that’s why so often at the top of the corporate/business food chain we run into those who can’t do the work, but can pretend a good game. Frustrating, to say the least, for those who are competent but perhaps not motivated by status and shy at speaking up in order to self-promote.

If you follow my research and content, I am always working on guiding you to be authentically confident based on who YOU are.

I have found that gender plays a huge role in this distinction. Men tend to be more left-brained and analytical when they lead, following their head and the numbers. Women tend to be more right-brained, creative and visionary when they lead, following their intuition and inner sense about people and processes.

As with everything in life, there should be a harmony between being confident and competent. It doesn’t serve the highest good for anyone to be so overly confident and chasing after status that they ignore the competence necessary for a job. On the other hand, it’s of no use to society to be very competent but so afraid to confidently show up, speak up and sell yourself.

So how can you become more confident and gain higher status, prominence and influence? Stop and consider:

• How do you define yourself in your role versus your identity?

• How often do you stop and evaluate your skill set compared to what others see of you?

• Do people get a real good sense of your competence level even if they haven’t been able to sample ALL your work directly? If not, what’s one small step you can take to ensure you’re more visible and seen? Only in this way, will your competence have a chance of being noticed.

• Make a list of what you love about your current career/job. How much of it is about substantive work that requires your competence? How much of your list is about the status and social access your job brings you? Does your list/results make you feel good deep down inside OR do you sometimes feel like you are: a) shortchanging yourself OR b) playing a game of chicken with others where they may discover the “real” you?

Sitting down and getting quiet to answer these questions may seem very uncomfortable. If so, you are on the right track. This short term discomfort will pay off great dividends in the long run. I promise.

Up for coaching? I’m right here for you whenever you are ready to reach out. Or not. You are free and strong and can decide for yourself.

If you do want to connect, I offer only three, free, 1:1 live Degree of Influence brand assessment meetings per month. Sign up here. But only do so if you are serious. I take these meetings seriously and so should you.

If this content doesn’t resonate with you, please consider sharing it with others who may benefit.

Much love,


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