The dangers of overconfident leaders.

In the midst of rapid political changes, The Myers-Briggs Company looks at the dangers of overconfident leaders and how this can be managed in both the political and workplace spheres. 

Psychological research tells us that the experts who sound most confident and authoritative are generally listened to more and believed in more fully. This is because humans instinctively respond to confidence in a positive way.

However, those who sound most self-assured in their pronouncements aren’t necessarily the most accurate or truthful. In fact, research has revealed that experts who sound the most confident are also the most likely to get things wrong.

Therefore, overzealous and over-confident leaders can mean potential dangers for both the political scene and the workplace.

These negative effects of overconfidence are often also exacerbated by ‘group think’. In the rush to make decisions, any information that is inconvenient to the story constructed by the leader is often ignored.

Further research has also demonstrated that overconfident and dominant leaders can actively inhibit information exchange between members of a group, making the situation even worse. 

One way to overcome these challenges, in both the political and workplace spheres, is to build self-awareness. By becoming more aware of their personality and their particular biases, individuals can make more informed decisions, helping them to overcome the pressure to follow group think.

Personality questionnaires like the MBTI® assessment give people a framework to compare themselves to others and can be extremely useful in facilitating more balanced problem solving.

If we know that when it comes to taking in information, we tend to concentrate on the facts and past experience rather than future possibilities (Sensing rather than Intuition in MBTI terms), we can force ourselves to spend time in our less preferred mode. The same goes for making decisions – do we tend to rely more on logic (Thinking) or pay more attention to values (Feeling)?

When people with similar personality types get together, group think is likely to be seen, especially when decisions need to be made under pressure.

But by making the group spend equal time on both their preferred and non-preferred styles of thought, the MBTI framework can help people to evaluate the suggestions of opinion leaders in a more rounded way. This ultimately helps us to make better organisational decisions – and is perhaps even advice that our political leaders could take note of.


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