Don't Be StupidCoach Smart

“My superstars don't need to be coached. I just need to stay out of their way.”

—The leader

“I never received any encouragement. It was like I was being ignored.”

—A superstar who resigned

Cornell University psychology professors David Dunning and Justin Kruger conducted a groundbreaking study in 1999 evaluating how people viewed their own performance. The study, now known as the Dunning–Kruger Effect, concluded that people base their perceptions of performance, in part, on their preconceived notions about their skills. Often those judgments about their performance have little to do with their actual accomplishment. Most people see their performance the way they want to see it. Lower-level performers viewed their performance as much greater than their actual performance. Top performers were typically more critical of their performance and underestimated the impact they had on their success and those around them. In both cases, the study concluded that people see themselves differently than reality and neither group is great at improving what they don't know.1

Everybody needs a coach! No one on your team can be objective when it comes to his or her performance. Even your superstars need someone who has a different perspective and can suggest minor adjustments that yield better results. You can give better advice than the person can come up with on their own. They may not want or need you telling them exactly what to do and how to do it. After all, ...

Get The First Two Rules of Leadership now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.