Managing Overconfident People

Controlling the Effects of Overconfidence

Business woman.

Identify and manage overconfidence.

© iStockphoto/iqoncept

One of your brightest and most ambitious team members, Alex, has just turned in his quarterly projections.

As you read through the report, you see numerous errors, both numerical and grammatical. The work is sloppy and has obviously not been checked.

His sales projections for the upcoming quarter are more than double what you agreed, just a few days ago. Instead of following your guidance, he's putting the whole team – and your budget – at risk, by claiming that he'll achieve these sales figures.

Although Alex is one of your hardest workers, his overconfidence is starting to have a negative effect on others in the department, including you. He's taking unnecessary risks, making unrealistic predictions, and jeopardizing working relationships.

It takes strategy and finesse to manage an overconfident person, as well as a willingness to address the issue before it causes problems. In this article, we'll look at the dangers of overconfidence, and we'll explore how you can manage an overconfident person.


Self-confidence is essential for people to be happy, productive, and engaged. It's only when overconfidence develops that it becomes a problem! If you suspect that some of your team members don't have enough confidence, our article on Building Confidence in Other People   will help you help them.

The Dangers of Overconfidence

Overconfidence is surprisingly common. Studies show that lots of us are overconfident about something, whether it's our driving skills, our aptitude for technology, or our belief that we're more talented or intelligent than our peers.

While it may seem to be a personality flaw today, some overconfidence may have been a good thing in the past. Other studies suggest that overconfidence helped our ancestors survive, because they were faster, and could do more with fewer resources.

Life is much more complicated now, and, while our circumstances have changed drastically, our tendency to overestimate our capabilities has not.

Effects of Overconfidence

The problem with overconfidence is that it can be damaging, and even dangerous, in the workplace.

Overconfidence can do the following:

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