Leaders: Are You As Good As You Think You Are?

  Mark Wager is an international leadership expert who regularly runs programmes in Fiji. Mark can be contacted at How would you rate your­self as a leader on a
07 Jul 2018 10:00
Leaders: Are You As Good As You Think You Are?


Mark Wager is an international leadership expert who regularly runs programmes in Fiji. Mark can be contacted at

How would you rate your­self as a leader on a scale of one to 10?

If you rated yourself as a seven or maybe eight out of 10 then you are in the majority.


A survey conducted by the Aus­tralasian Leadership Institute showed that 95 per cent of leaders rated themselves as above aver­age.

While that alone is not a problem it is when you consider what em­ployees think of their bosses as leaders you will realise the gap.

The same survey also showed that when employees were asked the same question only 50 per cent of the managers and supervisors were considered above average.

A huge difference in percep­tions, but it gets more interest­ing when managers were asked to rate other managers as it showed that managers believed that only 40 per cent of fellow managers would be above average.

Poor leaders

We all know there’s a problem with poor leadership in the work­place but we don’t believe we are one of those poor leaders.

It is a problem if we believe we are better than we actually are because we are ignorant of our skills and we can’t work towards improving them.

People tend to overestimate their abilities and leaders are no excep­tion.

Whether it’s our intelligence, our personal qualities, our skills or even our sense of humour we tend to believe we are above aver­age and while in some cases we are right, the majority of time we are wrong.

This is what in psychology is called illusionary superiority.

Illisionary psychology

Illusionary superiority is a cog­nitive bias that causes us to over­estimate our positive qualities and underestimate our negative qualities especially in relation to other people.

This is a survival mechanism as we need a sense of natural confi­dence in order to perform tasks essential to our ongoing survival.

One of the main reasons why so­ciety has evolved over the years is because of illusionary superior­ity.

We have had the confidence to do new things and the confidence to get things right yet while this has been great for the human race it’s not so great for leaders in the modern workplace.

We all know there are many poor leaders in the workplace as the majority of us have had the dubi­ous honour of working for them. But when 95 per cent of leaders think that when we talk about poor leaders it doesn’t relate to them then there’s a problem not only for those individuals but also for their teams and the organisa­tions they work for.

Fix a problem

No one can fix a problem or im­prove when they are unaware that there’s even an issue.

In many walks of life, we are made aware of our weaknesses or failings.

In sport, it’s difficult to believe you are better than other people when the scoreboard clearly tells you that you are losing.

It’s difficult to remain think­ing you are funny when no one is laughing, it’s difficult to convince people you are a good driver after you have just been involved in a near miss yet where leadership is concerned it’s different.


We don’t like to give our lead­ers feedback especially when we believe it’s going to be perceived as negative, it’s not respectful to correct our superiors, people may think bad of us when we speak up.

We may get on our boss’s bad side or they may not listen, so what’s the point.

Whatever the reason leaders don’t get the same feedback as they do in other areas of their life so many leaders.

In the workplace continue to be­lieve they are better than they ac­tually are and you can’t improve if you believe you don’t have to improve.


As a leadership coach, I’ve had the honour of coaching many leaders from many industries and countries and regardless of their many differences there is always one similarity.

At the beginning of every coach­ing programme we focus on what we call the “success gap.”

This is when we determine what level the leader is currently at in terms of skills and what level they need to reach in order to achieve their goals.

In every case, without exception, whether they are a first time man­ager or an experienced chief ex­ecutive, everyone overestimates the level of skills they currently have and underestimate the level of skills they require in order to achieve their goals.

Without exception everyone I have every coached has done this. Yet this is not a bad thing.

Being blissful

If you are reading this article and you think it’s a good read but more useful for other people, then you are and will remain blissfully unaware of what you are truly ca­pable of and that’s fine if it makes you happy yet.

If you are reading this and you have a spark inside you that is questioning whether you are as good as you think you are then congratulations.

Own ability

The spark will grow into a fire and that fire will burn away the barriers that stand between you and your goals.

It’s ok to question your own abil­ity because just look at what you have achieved during your career.

All the successes, all the good days and just think for a moment if instead of being a seven or eight out of ten you were in fact a six.

All your achievements occurred when you were only a six out of ten so just imagine what you could achieve, what levels you would reach, what differences you could make when you became a real eight out of ten.

You are now exposed to a whole new range of possibilities and these opportunities are available to every leader as long as they have the courage to ask them­selves if they are as good as they believe they are.

Mr Wager will be visiting Fiji in August. If you would like him to train your managers contact him at



Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus