On January 6, 2018, President Donald Trump tweeted:
...Actually, throughout my life, my two greatest assets have been mental stability and being, like, really smart. Crooked Hillary Clinton
also played these cards very hard and, as everyone knows, went down in flames. I went from VERY successful businessman, to top T.V. Star.....to President of the United States (on my first try). I think that
would qualify as not smart, but genius....and a very stable genius at that!
The fact that these tweets fail the "leadership humility test" is noted; however, it seems that these statements could be a more powerful indicator of the reliability of self-assessment.
Some years ago, we ran across an article entitled "Flawed Self-Assessment: Implications for Health, Education, and the Workplace." It is a monumental work which analyzes years of research related to self-assessment and concludes with recommendations for policy, research, and instruments that are impacted by self-assessments.
An Overview of the Article
The actual article is almost 40 pages and includes over seven pages (two columns) of references.
Rather than trying to summarize, we provide you the summary of the article that is taked from the article. Note that you can download the article for personal use.
Click here for a copy of the summary.
Given what the authors tell us about the validity and reliability of self-assessment, there are surely implications for how we collect data on people we hire (or vote for) and the extent to which we can trust or rely on information individuals give us about themselves.
Take, for example, the job interview. The face-to-face (or virtual) interview is a common tool in the screening and selection process. We ask candidates to describe and evaluate their behavior and effectiveness in prior or current roles.
How do we check the accuracy of those self-assessments? We call their references.
Have you ever listed a reference on your resume or vita you knew would give you a poor rating or reveal some major issues you have as a manager or leader? Further, time after time, our clients who will check references, no longer rely heavily on getting information about the downside of a candidate.
Nobody wants the legal hassle and cost of truth-telling in the case of a flawed candidate.
In a previous post, we wrote briefly about confirmation bias-the tendency to believe data that fit our pre-conceived notions about something and to reject that which is not consistent.
So, we not only have the issue of self-assessments, but also the fact that many people will accept or reject those assessments on the basis of their current notions.
Rather than make grand claims or far-reaching recommendations, we simply recommend that you consider exploring the topic of self-assessment and consider how what we are learning impacts your life, organization, and work.
P.S. We will also make a pitce for using tools like the Leadership Effectiveness Analysis 360º Survey where you not only get self-perceptions, but also ratings of observers like the boss, peers, and direct reports. Such tools by no means eliminate the phenomena of self-assessment or confirmation bias, but provide some hard numbers to help one get a sense of the individual's personal behavior as well as a measure of how one's self-perceptions align with those of others who know her or him.