The Dunning-Kruger effect is the theory that underskilled people tend to hold overly favourable views of their abilities, with the corollary that highly-skilled people can tend to assume that tasks that are easy for them are also easy for others.
Both of these tendencies present clear challenges in management.
A recent article suggests that the Dunning-Kruger effect is present when leaders self-assess their ability to coach their teams.
Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman reviewed data on leaders who self-assessed their coaching ability, and then had their skills assessed in 360 reviews. They found that for coaching, as for other skills, there is a noticeable tendency to estimate skills incorrectly. About a quarter of subjects significantly over-estimated their skills. Those who under-estimated their skills were also out by a significant margin.
The authors recommend attending targeted training, self-assessing and seeking feedback, to get a clearer picture of both overall coaching effectiveness and specific areas to target, such as listening well, collaborating effectively and encouraging diversity.
360 feedback can be personally confronting, especially for a leader who takes these issues seriously. Engaging with an external executive coach can provide a safe space to work through the results of 360 feedback, and to recognise how to apply the results in developing management skills.