Webinar Wrap-Up: Surprises as we Explore the Science of Self-Confidence (Part 2)

In part one, we shared highlights from the webinar, along with some terrific Q&A about applying the research. Catch up on part one here, or watch the original webinar on demand here.

As Maria Brown, Head of Research, dug deep into the findings around self-confidence, she found several surprises. It’s no wonder, then, that many of our webinar attendees were curious about the details of the research. In this post, Maria answers the questions we couldn’t get to in our live hour. If you have further questions about this study, or any MRG research, don’t hesitate to reach out to Maria any time.

Q: I’m surprised be these results – it seems like self and conveyed self-confidence should have been correlated.

A: We also expected to see a stronger relationship between the two and were a bit surprised by the finding. We will continue to explore this in future research. One possibility is that felt self-confidence is expressed by different patterns of behavior that are unique to the individual. Because observers rely on overt behaviors to make inferences about how self-confident someone is, they might make mistakes if they fail to recognize the right pattern of felt self-confidence for that individual.

Q: Can you explain exaggeration score on the LEA and how that should be applied to the results?

A: We looked at the data and found a weak correlation between exaggeration scores and felt self-confidence (r = .15). This is great news from a research design perspective, because it means that participants who were more likely to exaggerate were not responding to the self-confidence item any differently than participants who exaggerated less.

Q: Did you find any differences based on race, industry, region, or management level?

A: This is a great question and one that we will address in the future. This (felt and conveyed self-confidence) is a brand new line of research for us. We will continue to explore the question of self-confidence across important demographic and work factors in the coming years as we collect more data.

Q: When you looked at the research by generation, did you control for job level (i.e. line, mid-manager, senior leader, etc.)?

A: The sample included leaders at all levels but we plan to analyze them separately as we collect more data. We agree that this is important to explore, since generation tends to correlate with management level.

Q: Wouldn’t it be fascinating to redo this every 5 years or so for the same individuals to see how their growth changes their scores?

A: It would! When we work with human development of any kind, it is important to make a distinction between that which comes with time, experience, and maturity, and that which requires work and some level of developmental effort. The type of longitudinal study you suggest would help to clarify that distinction. This study is just the first in this line of research for MRG. We will continue to explore the development of felt and conveyed self-confidence, and this is something we will explore once we have gathered enough data.

Q: You noted that in women, atypical gender behaviors appear to correlate with higher conveyed self-confidence. How did you determine atypical gender behaviors?

A: When we looked at the behaviors that impact conveyed self-confidence in men and women, what we found is that some of the behaviors were atypical of the gender and more characteristic of the opposite gender. For example:

  • In general, women tend to score lower on restraint than men. Yet lower restraint scores were related to higher conveyed self-confidence in men but not in women.
  • In general, men tend to score higher on strategic than women. Yet higher strategic scores were associated with higher conveyed self-confidence in women but not in men.

Q: What are the outcomes associated with conveyed self-confidence (e.g. team performance, direct report trust)?

A: This research is based only on LEA 360™ data and we did not include other outcome measures. What we did find is that conveyed self-confidence is related to many business skills (i.e., moving forward in business, overcoming obstacles, taking control and making effective choices) that are likely to influence other measurable outcomes.

Q: Can you explain a bit more about the inverse relationship between deference to authority and self-confidence?

A: Inverse relationships in this study indicate that leaders with higher levels of conveyed self-confidence used those behaviors less frequently than leaders with lower levels of conveyed self-confidence. We wouldn’t suggest that leaders should aim to eliminate those behaviors from their repertoire (e.g., show minimal deference to authority and minimal cooperation). However, they should consider whether they might be emphasizing the behaviors more than they need to be emphasizing them.

Q: Could you say that high deference to authority is a sign of low conveyed self-confidence?

A: This research used aggregate scores to understand relationships between behavior and conveyed self-confidence. We found that leaders with higher levels of conveyed self-confidence tend to show deference to authority less frequently than leaders with lower levels of conveyed self-confidence. However, even if we identify individuals who might be at risk for lower conveyed self-confidence based on one behavior, we should consider their full behavior profile.

Q: Tricia indicated that women who appear more self-confident demonstrate more persuasion and more strategic behaviors than their male peers, yet the next slide indicated that women who appear more confident demonstrate more focus on short term. Can you please clarify? 

A: Thank you for paying close attention to the presentation. There was a typo on that slide. We have fixed it in the shared slide deck, which you can find here.

About the author

Lucy is the Head of Marketing at MRG. She's a passionate people person who talks with her hands even when she's on the phone. She will not rest until everyone on earth has taken their IDI.

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