What I’m Reading: Confidence Run Amok

Enron: Confidence Run Amok


By Lyn Turknett

Co-founder & Co-chair, Turknett Leadership Group

Harvard Business Review
Overconfidence is Contagious
by Joey T. Cheng, Elizabeth R. Tenney, Don A. Moore, and Jennifer M. Logg

November 17, 2020

This article is about Enron, and we’re now “celebrating” the 20th year of their implosion. That was surely an example of confidence run amok – confidence that was NOT balanced by humility. Enron hadn’t happened when we created the Leadership Character Model, but it was a major reason for our starting the Leadership Character Awards. We’d seen so many examples of ethical lapses – and so many instances of executives who took outsized risks , and who had unmodulated, “inauthentic” confidence.

The documentary on Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room says it all. If you think you’re the smartest person, you are already in deep, in polite terms, trouble.