Brainfood: Are you suffering from false authority syndrome

The term was originally coined for IT experts whose knowledge of computers was more basic than they let on. One minute they were fixing the office computer, the next they were being asked to treat viruses and develop software that normally require a PhD from MIT. As nobody understood a word they said, their opinion was taken as gospel truth. Pretty soon, they had convinced themselves as well as others. Typical sufferers are bankers, doctors and lawyers; by using fancy terms and an authoritative voice, they can disguise the fact that they don't have a clue what they're talking about. Often it's the person on the receiving end (the client) who has to be treated, largely for being taken in by all the gobbledygook.

by Helen Kirwan-Taylor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest disorders to tackle. Start by asking the sufferer: 'What exactly do you mean?' If they can't explain, assume they have no idea what they're on about and renegotiate their fee.

helen@kirwantaylor.com.

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

The CEO's guide to switching off

Too much hard work is counterproductive. Here four leaders share how they ease the pressure....

What Lego robots can teach us about motivating teams

People crave meaningful work, yet managers can so easily make it all seem futile.

What went wrong at Debenhams?

There are lessons in the high street store's sorry story.

How to find the right mentor or executive coach

One minute briefing: McDonald’s UK CEO Paul Pomroy.

What you don't want to copy from Silicon Valley

Workplace Evolution podcast: Twitter's former EMEA chief Bruce Daisley on Saturday emails, biased recruitment and...

Research: How the most effective CEOs spend their time

Do you prefer the big, cross-functional meeting or the one-to-one catch-up?