A great deal has been written about the dangers of overconfidence in business. Being overconfident can cause major disasters, costing many people their jobs and ruining long-standing companies. In some cases, though, overconfidence is exactly what a leader needs.
The business world is naturally full of risks and those who are able to ignore them often make choices that lead to improbable successes. As such, it is very possible to look at overconfidence as an asset in business – albeit one that should be managed carefully and leveraged only in a few very specific situations.
On a basic level, overconfidence can benefit a business because an overconfident leader isn’t held back by normal constraints. These leaders don’t know – or don’t care – that their plans have a potential for failure, so they shoot for the money. In some circumstances, this is exactly what a company needs to succeed. Taking on projects that scare away others can lead a business to dominate a segment of the market that’s often seen as too risky. These risks are never safe, but an overconfident leader will pursue them to the possible benefit of the company.
While overconfidence is usually seen as harmful when it comes to over-valuing one’s ability or the value of a company, it’s actually quite helpful for fostering a positive company atmosphere. When a leader is overconfident, his or her employees tend to have a much brighter view of the company’s future. This means more time spent working towards the company’s goals, less turnover of high-value employees, and higher office morale. Things might come crashing down when overconfidence leads to disaster, but in the meantime, this sort of attitude actually makes a business a much more pleasant place in which employees can work.
Overconfidence is a double-edged sword. It can be useful at times, but it can also be dangerous. Pairing an overconfident leader with someone who is a bit more risk averse may help to temper the worst qualities of both, leading to a business that is able to take the big risks without necessarily falling prey to its own worst excesses. Overconfidence is certainly not a quality that a good leader wants to cultivate in himself or herself, but it’s certainly a quality that can be helpful from time to time.