She Didn’t Believe – But Others Did

The incompetent may not recognize their ineptitude. It’s called the Dunning-Kruger Effect. I’ve known individuals who had no idea how unskilled they were. 


The research of Dr. David Dunning and Dr. Justin Kruger also suggests that highly skilled individuals may underestimate their competence.

everyone said yeah you can do it

It’s a gift to believe in someone when they don’t believe in themselves.

Olympic success:

Olympian Gwen Jorgensen was enlisted to participate in the triathlon while in a cubicle at the accounting firm of Ernst & Young. U.S. recruiters believed she could succeed.

Jorgensen, at first, didn’t believe. Today, she’s an Olympic Gold Medalist. It began with people believing in her.

Successful leaders believe in potential that others don’t see in themselves.

5 ways to ignite underutilized potential:

#1. Aspire for others in ways that align with their abilities and talent.

  1. Find new expressions and applications of abilities.
  2. Don’t impose your aspirations on others.
  3. Don’t imagine that fixing people ignites their passion. 

#2. See beyond weaknesses. Some leaders constantly complain about team members. Weaknesses are magnets that capture and narrow a negative leader’s focus.

Weakness-centric leaders lose the opportunity to bring out the best in others.  

#3. Honor current achievements. Don’t say, “You could be so much more,” until you’ve celebrated what they’ve already achieved. You might say, “You’re awesome at making decisions. I wonder where you might go?”

#4. Talk about what they might achieve with focused attention and hard work. When they rise up, keep fueling their fire. (It may take time for individuals to believe in themselves.)

#5. Advance untested team members cautiously. You may set them up for failure. Remember that some individuals overestimate their abilities and don’t recognize their incompetencies.

  1. Provide temporary opportunities.
  2. Explore inner motivations.
  3. Avoid hand-holding.
  4. Provide honest feedback.
  5. Build on success. Go with emerging passions.

Stretching people is central to leadership success.

How might leaders ignite underutilized potential?

Image source

banner inc magazine top 50 leadership and management expert