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Depressives and Delusives

“Some people are deluded about what they are best at. But delusion doesn’t matter (up to a point). If you think you are best at something, it improves your performance. In 360 assessments, there is one group that is the most accurate about assessing their own performance versus how other people assess them. And that’s depressives. The most highly productive people, by contrast, are slightly positively deluded about how good they are. So, self-awareness isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”

Marcus Buckingham, speaking at Leaders in London 2007*.

Shame, because part of my schtick about the problems with leadership is that leaders don’t ‘confront reality’ enough (as Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan put it). According to Buckingham, it’s not as simple as that. I still think there are more downsides than upsides with self-delusion. And that most managers and leaders being deluded about their own performance causes a dissonance between them and their colleagues that outweighs the boost to their own performance that a slight blindness to their own deficiencies might create.

What’s the most powerful force in the Universe? Denial.

*That’s my paraphrasing based on my shorthand notes, rather than a direct quote from Buckingham.


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