Dedicated, with thanks, to all our key workers
Dr Suzanne Doyle-Morris never imagined the stark contrast between competence and confidence would play out in such a disturbing way, when she started research for “The Con Job – Getting Ahead with Competence in a World Obsessed with Confidence”. The book exposes the inherent dangers which value Confidence over Competence.
As the world faces the biggest crisis in our lifetime, Suzanne highlights how, at last, we appear to be changing that thinking.
“With Coronavirus dominating the global news cycle, the performance and actions of leaders including Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have never been under closer scrutiny. In these unprecedented times, however, the world is looking to, and indeed is urgently relying on, those who are genuinely competent rather than those with misplaced confidence.
The fight against Covid-19 is being led by our doctors, nurses, transport workers, delivery drivers, teachers and carers. They are quite rightly among the list of key workers the Government is prioritising in these most challenging of times. These are the people we now trust in and whose competence we value above all else. Yet competent people like carers and nurses are routinely underpaid, mirroring the way competence has been undervalued to date.
With regards to our leaders, there is little doubt that the inherent confidence of both Boris Johnson and Donald Trump got them elected. Both men are typical of the "status quo" of leaders in most Western workplaces who are White, Heterosexual, Male, Native English Speakers, Able-bodied and often Extroverted. However, studies clearly show that as a person’s confidence grows, their attention to detail and therefore competence decreases. This is frightening in a time when we need expertise over bravado.
In the UK, we appear to be moving away from a confidence-first attitude to finally recognising, as never before, the competencies of our key workers and scientific community. It was only in acknowledging the significance and value of the competence-first approach that the UK Government has changed course in dealing with the pandemic. However, at time of writing, the US President has not yet displayed any genuine switch in attitude and this must be a huge concern as the world fights an invisible killer.”
“The Con Job – Getting Ahead with Competence in a World Obsessed with Confidence” comes out on 23 April 2020 and will be available from www.amazon.co.uk.
Suzanne Doyle-Morris, Author, Speaker & Gender Balance Expert for 25+ years.
Hear what I told BBC Radio about what to do about the worsening gender pay gap data