GLOSS Issue 19 DEC 2014-JAN 2015 - Page 79

Of course, teachers are not to blame for this; taking chances based on limited information is necessary for human beings to just get through a typical day. This is partly because we don’t want to appear ignorant and lose social standing, but also because we create mental shortcuts out of a need for efficiency and rarely have all the information we would like before making a decision. For example, even though we know there is a slim chance a driver may not see the red light as they approach an intersection, most of us still step boldly onto the street when that little green figure appears on the other side of the road without a moment’s hesitation. The ‘confidence’ we exhibit in other people’s social conformity, however, can get us into rather a lot of trouble. Just how much of an issue our over-confidence can be is explored in detail in the book Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and SelfDoubt. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at University College London, writes that lower confidence is in fact necessary for gaining competence, which obviously sits at the base of genuine confidence. In other words, overconfidence gets in the way of us being curious, asking questions and developing our skills such that real confidence is justified. But the issue is larger than that. When you consider that, statistically, for any endeavour humanity has turned its hand to, half the people involved possessed a less-than-average competency, you begin to understand just what the scale of the over-confidence problem may be. The dilemma really lies in what over-confidence robs us of. Of course leaders must convey some sense of certainty in order to engage their team to at least attempt to prove a hypothesis right or wrong. It also makes sense that they have a reasonable amount of confidence that their hypothesis is probably correct. However, over-confidence stops us looking too closely at blind spots and possible errors. It has us ‘hope for the best’ and ‘keep calm and carry on’ rather than dealing with issues that may completely derail our objectives, regardless of our confidence levels.