Projecting Leadership

Big MouthWhat has a greater influence on being perceived as a leader? Your ability, or your willingness to speak up?

Gavin Kilduff, a Ph.D candidate at UC Berkeley, has been working very hard on the question of how leaders and winners are determined in the workplace, particularly in the context of rivalry. Recently, a study he and professor Cameron Anderson published in the February 2009 Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has been getting a lot of attention.

In this study Kilduff and Anderson discuss carefully-designed studies showing that whether we are part of a group or an outsider, we judge as the most competent leaders those who speak up confidently and frequently. This is true regardless of gender or demonstrated ability.

If this were related to the peacock effect, perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad. Management Issues, however, notes a phenomena more closely related to Unskilled, And Unaware Of It.

“Yes, confidence and ability are often correlated, as when people who are truly talented exhibit more confidence in their opinions and ideas,” said Anderson.

“But, often confidence and ability are only mildly related, or even unrelated,” he added.  

As the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) advises, those who hesitate to speak up – a common trait of politeness for women – may be well-served to get just a little bit rude, and speak up to project those leadership qualities.