EdTech CEOs Need to be Confident but Humble

EdTech CEOs Need to be Confident but Humble

Intellectual Humility gives you better-decision making skills.


Being CEO is a demanding job that requires a lot of confidence in your abilities, confidence that you are surrounding yourself with the right people, and confidence that you are making the right decisions to move the company forward on the path to success. This confidence is a result of believing in yourself and holding on to that belief during rough times. But believing in yourself and believing in your opinions are two different things, and you need to approach them differently

Open Up Your Intellectual Humility

According to new research done at Duke University, how tightly you hold on to your beliefs, opinions and ideas shapes the way you make decisions, and not always in a good, positive way. The severity of this “grip” on your opinions is called Intellectual Humility (IH), and it has a big impact on your ability to tell right from wrong.

According to Mark Leary, professor of psychology and neuroscience and lead author of the study used in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, if you agree with the statement, “I question my own opinions, positions, and viewpoints because they could be wrong,” then you may score highly on IH.

“The ramifications are broad,” Leary says, “since needing to be right all the time and ignoring evidence that conflicts with your opinion can create all sorts of problems, whether in relationships or business or politics.”

IH and EdTech ego quote

Many EdTech CEOs come into the education industry after being successful in other areas, such as finance or healthcare. This experience may shape beliefs and ideas that you think are compatible with education. This lack of Intellectual Humility can actually be harmful to your decision making. While those other industries are also  massive and highly regulated like education, the similarities are actually few.

The procurement process alone sets education apart in its own world. The EdTech sales cycle is long, arduous and frustrating. The layers of bureaucracy can seem endless at times. And it’s not going to change anytime soon. Without a high level of IH, you might assume that you can change the system, which could be a fatal mistake. You need to open yourself to ideas from people who have been successful in the industry and change your way of thinking.

That is just one example of mistakes CEOs who are new to education make because of a low degree of IH. If you’re new to education, check your ego at the door, accept the fact that you have a lot to learn about the industry and its operations, and leave your mind open to new ideas.  “Probabilistically,” Leary says, “wouldn’t it be strange if your views were always the right ones? Wouldn’t it be odd if everything you believe is true?”