A soon to be published study, “A Status Enhancement Account of Overconfidence”, from the Haas School of Business at University of California Berkeley reveals that overconfidence helps people attain more respect, prominence, and influence.

Confidence may or may not be an indication of a person’s actual abilities. Yet, it appears that people are easily swayed by others confidence even when it is not justified according to the authors.

“Within work groups, for example, higher status individuals tend to be more admired, listened to, and have more sway on the group’s discussions and decisions.”

Could this be the explanation for why incompetent people are so often promoted over their more competent peers?

The persons labeled overconfident in these studies exhibited behavior that made them appear wonderful (even when they’re not). Body language, vocal tone, and rate of participation were influencing factors. These people spoke more often, spoke with confidence and provided more information and answers, and they acted calmly and relaxed as they worked with their peers. They appeared to be more competent than individuals who were actually more competent.

What is the lesson here for those of us who are more comfortable being invisible and working hard? Unfortunately, if you stay in your comfort zone, chances are you will be overlooked and considered less competent despite your talent and hard work.

Here are some proven techniques to demonstrate your competence in the workplace:

  1. Understand your value proposition.
  2. Learn to articulate your value by connecting it to business outcomes and results.
  3. Do your homework and understand the way decisions are made in your organization and develop relationships with key people.
  4. Speak up in meetings and offer your opinion.
  5. Ask for what you need in a clear concise manner.
  6. Practice public speaking and look for opportunities to present to senior management.
  7. Dress professionally.
  8. Work with a mentor, coach, or trusted colleague to give you honest feedback on your body language, vocal tone etc. and identify areas for improvement.

Developing your executive presence is the key to creating an image of confidence and competence in the workplace. And demonstrating confidence and competence is the key to career advancement.