Balancing Confidence & Competence for Career Success

performance perspective May 09, 2023

No matter what you read, there is no magic formula for producing career success. In reality, growth and advancement is a process that looks different for everyone, and its up to you to find out what you need. There are, however, a set of fundamentals that can always serve as a foundation for you to return to, and build on. One of these skills is finding a balance between confidence and competence. In this week’s article I will talk about the dangers of having one without the other, what a balance looks like in practice, and strategies you can employ to start building it.

Confidence without Competence: Avoiding Overestimating Your Abilities 

Confidence can be seen as an admirable quality that helps us accomplish great feats in life, yet when that confidence outpaces actual abilities or knowledge, it leads to the confidence-competence gap, which could spell bad news. 

Specifically, overconfidence can lead to:

  • Taking on tasks or projects beyond your abilities; this can lead to mistakes, missed deadlines, and damaged relationships with colleagues or customers. 😓
  • Making decisions with incomplete or inaccurate information, which may have critical repercussions for both career and business success. ⚠️
  • A lack of self-awareness, leading to a failure to recognize your limitations or weaknesses; this prevents you from seeking feedback or learning from mistakes, which ultimately hinders your growth and limits your long-term potential. 🚧

Competence without Confidence: The Dangers of Selling Yourself Short 

Competence without confidence can be just as harmful. If you possess excellent skills and knowledge yet you lack trust in them, you’ll likely find yourself missing opportunities to advance and grow. 

An absence of confidence can:

  • Cause hesitation in tackling new projects or challenges. 😣
  • Lead to fear of speaking up during meetings or sharing ideas. 🤐
  • Block you from developing strong relationships with coworkers and mentors 🚧
  • Simply stated, both confidence and competence are integral traits to develop independently, but they ought to be balanced together. By improving both traits in equal measures, you can avoid overconfidence or self-doubt while increasing long-term success.

Now that we’ve laid a foundation in why confidence vs. competence is important for career growth, let’s talk about strategies to achieve this balance📈

Building Confidence and Competence for Sustainable Success 

  • 📋Engage in self-assessment: Evaluate your skills, knowledge, strengths, and weaknesses regularly; this will enable you to make more informed decisions and identify areas for growth
  • 👥Seek Feedback: Gain valuable insight into your performance and identify areas for growth by seeking constructive criticism from colleagues, mentors, and friends
  • 📚Pursue lifelong learning: Personally, I devote 10% of my salary to new learning efforts each year. Whether that is through formal education, workshops, online courses, or self-directed study, you should always be looking to expand your knowledge base and skill set
  • 🎯Set Realistic Goals: Ambitious, yet attainable goals should reflect an honest assessment of your abilities and challenges
  • 🌱Adopt a growth mindset: Understand that your skills and abilities are not fixed –  you can, and will, develop them over time through dedication and persistence

Through employing these strategies, you can build both confidence and competence to promote an achievable path to long-term success. 


Maintaining an equilibrium between confidence and competence is critical to long-term success. While confidence may propel us forward, its foundation must lie in genuine abilities and knowledge. By engaging in self-assessments, seeking feedback from others, setting realistic goals, engaging in lifelong learning strategies, and adopting a growth mindset, we can cultivate both attributes simultaneously. This allows us to make more informed decisions, maximize opportunities, and continue to achieve our goals.


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