incompetent leadership

Port

Ad Honorem
Feb 2013
2,087
portland maine
#1
whether in the politics, business or the running of non profit organizations, is there some psychological or sociological reasons that make so many incompetent people become leaders?
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
#2
Depends entirely on the context and circumstances. There could be any number of a huge variety of possible factors at play: nepotism, favouritism, bribery, coercion, lack of alternatives, affirmative action, etc. Despite what psychologists and sociologists think, not everything can be simplified into a condition of some sort; the real world is much more complex and multi-faceted than that. There is almost never just one factor at play. You'll probably have to be more specific in terms of what type of leaders if you want an answer with more depth.
 

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,295
Dispargum
#3
Certainly in America, where success is so highly prized and esteemed, people are discouraged from accepting their limitations and are encouraged to push themselves as far as they can go, even beyond their talents.

Then there is the Peter Principle - when climbing the ranks of an organization, the people who get promoted are the ones who succeeded at their previous level. When a person stops succeeding, they stop getting promoted, but they don't get fired either. Nor are they demoted to the position where they were previously successful They stay at the position where they are failing. The idea that a lesser position is the best training ground for a leader is not a perfect idea. Sometimes the very factors that make someone a success at one level are exactly the opposite of what is necessary at the next higher level. Someone who produces highly consistent work because they do it all themselves is not showing an ability to delegate. Every now and then I come across a story of a person who failed at a lower level, somehow got promoted anyway, then succeeded at the higher level. The Confederate general William Mahone was a poor brigade commander but proved to be an excellent divisional commander. These kinds of stories show that the Peter Principle isn't always the best way to run an organization.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,352
#4
the Radical difference between the skills and talents needed to rise to the top and the skills and talents needed to effectively manage the organization.

In politics for example the skills in winning election are not really appilcalble to running the nation.
 
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Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,629
#6
It's actually a known psychological quirk. Clever and competent people tend to question their own competence. It seems to be part of a feed-back system that allows competence. What tends to mark out the truly incompetent is that they feel no or very little doubt about their abilities. So in systems that has trouble handle self-doubt, or thinks it a weakness, the supremely confident, yet incompetent, have a competitive advantage. (The British public school systems ability to breed superbly confident people as a social exercise is a case in point – not least in relation to how lacking they have been shown up to be by the Brexit process.)

Couple that with hierarchical systems where lack-of-self-doubt is seen as forcefulness, leadership ability, etc., and you get at least one common recipy for who some incompetent people clearly get promoted "beyond their natural rank".
 
Aug 2010
16,205
Welsh Marches
#7
"The British public school systems ability to breed superbly confident people as a social exercise is a case in point – not least in relation to how lacking they have been shown up to be by the Brexit process." I don't know what on earth you mean by that, unless it is a generalization from the over-confidence of Cameron about the result of the referendum (which was in fact shared by almost everyone in the establishment and commentariat, whether or not they had been educated at public schools). Similarly with regard to how the wihdrawal has been handled since, this cuts across both party lines and any consideration of background.
 

GogLais

Ad Honorem
Sep 2013
5,448
Wirral
#8
"The British public school systems ability to breed superbly confident people as a social exercise is a case in point – not least in relation to how lacking they have been shown up to be by the Brexit process." I don't know what on earth you mean by that, unless it is a generalization from the over-confidence of Cameron about the result of the referendum (which was in fact shared by almost everyone in the establishment and commentariat, whether or not they had been educated at public schools). Similarly with regard to how the wihdrawal has been handled since, this cuts across both party lines and any consideration of background.
I remember somebody I worked with describing someone else we knew as having a frightening blend of arrogance and ignorance. I thought that was beautifully put.
 
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