Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans


4 December 2015


On 22 November 2015, Lucy Kellaway published her FT blog called “Feeling useless at your job is painful but ensures you never are”. The title of her blog is somewhat misleading and doesn’t really invite to read. Once you “know” Lucy, you will read all of her blogs. She is a gifted writer with strong opinions. I sent this article to two persons as it may help them to appreciate themselves.

The third person for whom this article is relevant is me, myself, and I. Despite people telling me that my blogs are fine, good or excellent, these blogs still have to face my own scrutiny. I am my own worst critic. I am not a perfectionist though as I don’t believe in perfection anymore. Perfection would prevent me from finishing anything: It is better to do nothing than being imperfect.

I like sending my draft blogs to some friends for their comments. I am always hoping that their comments may bring a different perspective – one that I neglected. Sometimes it does. Sometimes these comments even give rise to new blogs. Usually I get very little feedback. This feeds insecurity. Although my self-knowledge did go up while getting older, my self-awareness may have gone down. I typically underrate my own importance.

Lucy Kellaway’s recent FT blog opened my eyes: “Yet according to the research, managers who fondly believe in their own exceptional qualities are among the worst performers. It is the ones who underestimate how good they are who turn out to be best at their jobs. And the more they under-rate themselves, the higher other people rate them, and the better work they do”. The research relates to a Harvard Business Review (HBR) leadership study: “We like leaders who underrate themselves”. 

The HBR article starts with a sneer to a competitor: “The Stanford Graduate School of Business asked the members of its Advisory Council which skills were most important for their MBA students to learn. The most frequent answer was self-awareness — possessing an accurate view of your skills, abilities, and shortcomings, as well as understanding how other people perceive your behaviour”.

HBR: “Much of the research literature on emotional intelligence published in the last two decades reinforces the importance of self-awareness. For instance, academic researchers have found that people are happier and more well adjusted when their view of themselves accords with others’ views of them. And Korn-Ferry (LO: a new sneer) has even published research suggesting that a company’s financial performance is related to the level of self-awareness of the firm’s leadership team”.
HBR: “But is self-awareness always a good thing? And how many managers really have it? We decided to find out. We delved into 360-degree feedback data describing 69,000 managers as seen through the eyes of 750,000 respondents at hundreds of firms. We found that leaders’ views of themselves generally don’t fit with how other people perceive them”.

“Surprisingly, the most effective leaders did not have the highest level of self-awareness. Indeed, the more they underrated themselves, the more highly they were perceived as leaders. We assume this is caused by a combination of humility, high personal standards, and a continual striving to be better”.

Humility, high personal standards, and a continual striving to be better? Yes, that is me. A Leader?? No, not at all. Then what ?? I like referring to myself as a Consigliere – a trusted counselor.

Analyze This (1999, IMDb) – Billy Crystal in the scene: ‘The New Consigliere’


Framework Posts


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest