Don A. Moore is a professor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley and author of the forthcoming book, Perfectly Confident: How to Calibrate Your Decisions Wisely (HarperCollins, 2020).
He was recently featured in the Los Angeles Times, where his op-ed took a critical look at President Trump’s overconfidence and how he’s going down a dangerous path for America’s nearly 330 million citizens as the novel coronavirus pandemic spreads across the country.
Here’s an excerpt:
“Trump’s optimism stands in sharp contrast to the recommendations of healthcare professionals, who tell us that the worst is yet to come, and that our only chance of containing the virus is by maintaining tight restrictions on business activity, social contact and travel.
Understanding the limits of confidence is key to overcoming this pandemic — and the next. Research on confidence has documented the dangers of being too confident. Overconfident people fail to plan for threats, such as COVID-19. Overconfident leaders make mistakes that put others at risk. Yet my research also shows that people routinely elevate leaders who express greater confidence than is warranted…
My research suggests that people routinely select leaders who express greater confidence than their rivals. This reflects our faith that confidence corresponds with performance. Would-be leaders who claim that they can deliver the moon, or bring back the coal industry, or provide free access to excellent healthcare and college education are more compelling. We assume that they will actually accomplish more than those who promise less and express less confidence. In many aspects of life, this faith is justified. Confidence is correlated with performance in many domains.
The perverse consequence when it comes to leaders, though, is that by selecting the most confident we are also very likely selecting the most overconfident. And leaders’ overconfidence creates real risks for the public. As late as March 6, Trump assured Americans that we were in “great shape,” and put off taking urgent preventive action.” March 26 – Los Angeles Times
Prof. Don Moore is the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communication at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. To arrange an interview, simple click on his icon or contact Laura Counts in media relations: [email protected].
Read more about Perfectly Confident, on sale May 5: