Confidence and Competence Are Not the Same

She walks into the office dressed smartly with obvious poise. She has an impressive handle on theories and procedures and when she articulates them, she does so as if no one could possibly argue with her. There in fact is no argument. She knows what she’s talking about.

He sits at the head of the table with clear authority and power. He orders people to make their reports as if those reports are specifically for him and everyone at the table works for him. He’s slow to praise or thank people. He can be a bit of a bully.

This podcast (one more time) is excellent in terms of looking at evolving leadership. Even in churches, it used to be true that leaders who exuded confidence were considered the best. Maybe that confidence arose because of roles (when clergy were considered more respected than we are now or when business leaders/successful farmers/well-known citizens were assumed to be equally as successful in their Christian practices.)

Yes, there are confident leaders who are also very competent. But it’s not necessarily so.

In the words of organizational psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic “We assume that confidence and competence are the same.” They are not.

The most competent leaders are quick to learn from others – including those with less experience or with different experiences. Competent leaders are humble. They do not come off as entitled.

Confident leaders look awesome. (i.e. Pulpit Candy.) But that doesn’t mean they will serve effectively.

This is yet another blog post encouraging personnel committees and pastor nominating committees to look beyond outward appearances. And it’s not my idea. Remember in the Bible what Samuel said the day God surprisingly called David – of all the sons of Jesse – to be the next king?

‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.’

Turns out King David was not his best self when he became an entitled egoist. But even David became a strong leader, humbled by his dependence on the God who called him. What are we doing to become more competent leaders? It’s important that we not depend on our confidence that we already are.

Image of TED Talkers (left to right) Patrice Gordon, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Nicola Sturgeon, and Shabana Basij-Rasikh.

One response to “Confidence and Competence Are Not the Same

  1. Brought to mind this gem from Mark Twain: “He had the calm confidence of a Christian with four aces.”

    Liked by 1 person

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