The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger effect is not only seen in leadership and management, but it’s also in every area of knowledge, skill and behaviour, and it reflects the learning journey people go on in mastering competencies.



The Dunning-Kruger effect is seen when someone overestimates their competence in a particular area, take, for example, the eager 17-year-old ready to take their first driving lesson. Their thoughts might be “this is easy”, “how hard could this be?” or “I’ve watched my parents drive for years, it’s a simple skill.”


Interestingly the Dunning-Kruger effect also plays out at the other end of the scale. Once a person has learnt to drive and has driven for years, their perception of this as competence is drastically reduced. They don’t see it requiring effort and could take for granted the skill required to get to that stage. Sometimes they might project this onto others.

Consider your own journey in leadership and management development.


How about those you lead? Coaching is often provided during these times. It’s a great way to help a new leader or manager transition through the various stages of competence whilst managing the impact on confidence in their role.