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Contents Bulletin Scripting in shell and Perl Network troubleshooting History Humor

Empty Suits
(Pathologically Incompetent Managers)

News Books Recommended Links Recommended Papers The Peter Principle The Mythical Man-Month
Communication with PIMM The Fiefdom Syndrome The authoritarian personality Coping with a narcissistic boss Fighting micromanagers The psychopath in the corner office
 Mayberry Machiavellians Narcissistic Managers Paranoid Managers Lysenkoism Humor Etc
  Natural evolution of large and complex organization tend to limit their adaptive competence

empty suit:

An executive in upper management who lacks the knowledge, experience, skills and/or intellect to hold in the position. "The director of marketing is an empty suit." Female "empty suits" are also known as a "hollow bunnies."

Fearless Leader

A reference to the Rocky and Bullwinkle cold-war cartoons, Fearless Leader was Boris Badenov's boss. We apply this term of endearment to all project leaders, managers or other authority figures that take credit for your successes, take no credit for failures, and in general don't have a clue as to what you're trying to accomplish! Don't say "The Fearless Leader", just refer to "Fearless Leader" as a proper name or you'll be screwing up this unique reference that no one under the age of 40 will get!

Microwave Slang

We need to distinguish between normal and abnormal incompetence. The latter is also called pathological incompetence or colloquially "empty suits".  It is usually quite toxic. Moreover it usually correlated with other personality problems -- most toxically incompetent managers are micromanagers or narcissists or bullies or both.   No substance and not much style. Just sharp claws and elbows.

Such managers are more widespread that this is assumed in Harvard Business Scholl publications: in a large organization competence is not the primary value. Politics, connections, and clever tactics can compensate for incompetence. The sad truth that they are pretty typical in large organizzations and for reasons completly different from The Peter Principle.  In "bootlickocracy", the most incompetents are valued for "different reasons" and can easily propel themselves into a supervisory role.

Toxic incompetence is usually correlated with various other personality disorders and is prominent among corporate psychopaths. Common clues include:

Those traits are often correlated with  right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). The latter is a personality  variable defined by three attitudinal and behavioral clusters which correlate together: (Right-wing authoritarianism)

  1. Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives. High RWA score does indeed increase the likelihood that individuals will obey authorities, even if asked to initiate extreme punishments. Specifically, Dambrun and Vatuien (2010) utilized a virtual variant of the classical Milgram study.
  2. Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be disapproved by the established authorities. This is a strong, stable tendency to look for, condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional behavior. Stories about US ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton demonstrate this type of behavior pretty well.  Inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper)
  3. Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one's society should also be required to adhere to these norms.

As annotation to  the book The Incompetent Manager aptly states:

The longest chapter in the book looks at abnormal incompetence and what are called personality disorders. Well-known psychiatric disorders are described in detail and how to spot these in managers. Thus, the paranoid or sociopathic, narcissistic or passive-aggressive types are described in everyday language as well as how to deal with them. More importantly, the book considers how the pathologically incompetent managers influence organizations and groups to fulfil their often bizarre needs and wishes. The final section of the book attempts to help the reader correctly diagnose incompetence. It also offers various possible cures: the emphasis is that cure follows correct diagnoses. Some cures for incompetence actually accentuate it.

Ruthless, toxic  incompetents typically use political games to promote themselves to upper echelons; they also try to hire subordinates with zero abilities ("subzeros"), but who are fiercely devoted to the benefactor as they have nowhere to go.  Bill Joy once proposed an elegant explanation for the apparently inevitable metamorphosis of cool start-ups into hideous corporations, which he called the Bozo2 Principle. Wizards, he said, hire other Wizards. Bozos hire Bozos. As a company grows rapidly, it is inevitable that some Wizards will slip and hire Bozos, given the scarcity of the former and plenitude of the latter. However, once a Bozo has been hired, he hires another, and "everything beneath them turns Bozo after that." (This is related to Steve Jobs' famous: "A people hire A people. B people hire C people.").

Bozo2 Principle: Wizards, Bill Joy said, hire other Wizards. Bozos hire Bozos

Few people  read The Peter Principle, a seminal work on incompetence and even fewer understand it message. Laurence J. Peter wrote part satire part sociological research along with Raymond Hull in the late 1960s but as with any good books if you read it today you feel it was written yesterday.  The problems that it touches are as vital in organizations in XXI century as they were in the second half of the XX century. The book has too layers: one serious about real problems in large organizations, and the second is Mark Twain-style depiction of the absurdity of the modern corporate life. The latter often misused and abused out of context. 

According to Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull incompetence is an immanent feature of modern organizations.   Theoretically, all men and women can be promoted to the level of their incompetence and many are: the number of talented managers is much less then the number of positions available in all large firms and organizations. There are just too many companies, firms and government institutions. In  a short note The generalized Peter Principle written in 1993 F. Heylighen noted:

The evolutionary generalization of the principle is less pessimistic in its implications, since evolution lacks the bureaucratic inertia that pushes and maintains people in an unfit position. But what will certainly remain is that systems confronted by evolutionary problems will quickly tackle the easy ones, but tend to get stuck in the difficult ones. The better (more fit, smarter, more competent, more adaptive) a system is, the more quickly it will solve all the easy problems, but the more difficult the problem will be it finally gets stuck in. Getting stuck here does not mean "being unfit", it just means having reached the limit of one's competence, and thus having great difficulty advancing further. This explains why even the most complex and adaptive species (such as ourselves, humans) are always still "struggling for survival" in their niches as energetically as are the most primitive organisms such as bacteria. If ever a species would get control over all its evolutionary problems, then the "Red Queen Principle" would make sure that new, more complex problems would arise, so that the species would continue to balance on the border of its domain of incompetence. In conclusion, the generalized Peter principle states that in evolution systems tend to develop up to the limit of their adaptive competence.

The Peter Principle states: "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." The natural corollary is that as organization became older the number on incompetents people at high levels increases until potentially the entire organization is manned by incompetent people.

In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.

This can be called the process of aging of organizations and incompetence is the cancer that often bring old organism down.  The related Red Quinn principle stated "in this place it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place."  This principle that can be formulated as "for an evolutionary system, continuing development is needed just in order to maintain its fitness relative to the systems it is co-evolving with"  was proposed by the evolutionary biologist L. van Valen (1973), and is based on the observation to Alice by the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's "Through the Looking Glass" .

Since every improvement in one species will lead to a selective advantage for that species, variation will normally continuously lead to increases in fitness in one species or another. However, since in general different species are coevolving, improvement in one species implies that it will get a competitive advantage on the other species, and thus be able to capture a larger share of the resources available to all. This means that fitness increase in one evolutionary system will tend to lead to fitness decrease in another system. The only way that a species involved in a competition can maintain its fitness relative to the others is by in turn improving its design.

The most obvious example of this effect are the "arms races" between predators and prey, where the only way predators can compensate for a better defense by the prey (e.g. rabbits running faster) is by developing a better offense (e.g. foxes running faster). In this case we might consider the relative improvements (running faster) to be also absolute improvements in fitness.

However, the example of trees shows that in some cases the net effect of an "arms race" may also be an absolute decrease in fitness. Trees in a forest are normally competing for access to sunlight. If one tree grows a little bit taller than its neighbours it can capture part of their sunlight. This forces the other trees in turn to grow taller, in order not to be overshadowed. The net effect is that all trees tend to become taller and taller, yet still gather on average just the same amount of sunlight, while spending much more resources in order to sustain their increased height. This is an example of the problem of local optimization: optimizing access to sunlight for each individual tree does not lead to optimal performance for the forest as a whole.

In sum, in a competitive world, relative progress ("running") is necessary just for maintenance ("staying put").

The Peter Principle spotlights the fact that every organization feels the overpowering compulsion to promote a person who performs well on his level  to the next higher level of hierarchy. The danger of this move that is can often be move from the level of (relative) competence to a level of (relative) incompetence. Thus, a competent mechanic is promoted to become an incompetent foreman, a competent foreman is made into an incompetent superintendent, a competent teacher is made into an incompetent vice-principal and a competent Colonel is promoted to become an incompetent General. 

The question arises "How the real work is still done in such situation?". Peter answer is somewhat fuzzy and incomplete: "Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence." But in reality the notion of work became perverted and the whole organization is sliding into socialism. This explains how large government bureaucracies and large corporate bureaucracies looks from the point of view of environment as identical twins. Still his observation that at the base of the pyramidal structure of the hierarchy there exists a large workforce who, by virtue of their intelligence and education, is still functioning at levels where they are superior to their job or in other words competent, still makes sense.

The related question is "Who defines competence". It also answered by Peter somewhat fuzzy:

"His superior in the hierarchy determines the competence of an employee. If the superior is on the level of competence, he will evaluate his subordinate based on his output such as his productivity or his achievement of whatever goals he has been set."

He states that a superior who has reached his level of incompetence is likely to evaluate on the basis of superficial traits such as promptness, neatness, and courtesy to his superiors, internal paper work, conformity to rules and so on. Peter says that in such a situation, internal consistency is valued more highly than efficient service. This phenomenon, typical for bureaucratic organizations, Peter calls as the `Peter's Inversion' but a more proper term might be "Peter perversion". Also he underestimated the power of mimicry in humans: it is easy for corporate psychopaths to became `inverts' if this means a safe way to procure more promotions in an organization. 

Also if we assume that most "organizational men"  seek out and tend to rise in a hierarchy they will do their best to adapt to the requirements of the organization no matter how pervert they are. If the principle requirement for rising in a particular hierarchy is "brown-nosing", then the men who have selected this hierarchy to rise in will do it. If long work hours is what it takes, then a certain number of men will exhibit the characteristics necessary to fulfill this requirement. They will ignore family, friends, social life, intellectual life, etc. to rise in the hierarchy. There is a strong biological predisposition to this behavior.

Also there is an interesting collorary: imposters, especially sociopaths, tend to congregate in the mid to upper levels of large organizations because one imposter cannot spot another imposter.

Peter points out an interesting type of people that organization tent to cultivate. He cites the example of the mother of George Washington who, when asked how her son was so accomplished as a General, answered: "I taught him to obey."  And that was a profound answer, authoritarian "kiss up, kick down" behavior is a universal opener for successful career in most large organizations. Much more so then personal intelligence.   It might be that the modern organization environment has a need for such people as they tend to smooth the internal contradictions and cat-fights inherent in the large organizations.  At least cat-fights became better structured ;-).

If  incompetence along with "kiss up, kick down" attitude is rewarded then people who are flexible enough can successfully simulate it, even if this is not thier natural behavior. So via mimicry non-authoritariarians became also eligible. Psichopath usually is the most prominent group that benefits as they are perfect in mimicry.

There are also several "smoke screen" strategies using which you can mask you incompetence.  Among possible strategies:

Among other office phobias Peter noted  "Death by PowerPoint" -- an obsession with flow charts and pie charts ; and very common "compulsive attention deficit disorder" which is the inability to read a report and instead ask a one page executive summary from the subordinate. "Look I have no time to wade through all this garbage. Tell me about this in your own words and briefly".

Similarly the choice of solution is influenced by the competence of managers. For example enterprise software systems (i.e. SAP/R3) are not a substitute for good management ability and often just mean conversion of the capitalist enterprise into socialist enterprise with the corresponding levels of inflexibility, bureaucratization and waist of resources on all levels.  As popular joke tells "the path to continuous improvement in a large organization is actually a circle."

When you try to optimize the global outcome for a system consisting of distinct subsystems (e.g. maximizing the amount of prey hunted for a pack of wolves, or minimizing the total punishment for the system consisting of the two prisoners in the Prisoners' Dilemma game), you might try to do this by optimizing the result for each of the subsystems separately. This is called "local optimization". The principle of local optimization states that local optimization in general does not lead to global optimization. Indeed, the optimization for each of the wolves separately is to let the others do the hunting, and then come to eat from their captures. Yet if all wolves would act like that, no prey would ever be captured and all wolves would starve. Similarly, the local optimization for each of the prisoners separately is to betray the other one, but this leads to both of them being punished rather severely, whereas they might have escaped with a mild punishment if they had stayed silent. Another, more dramatic implication of the problem of local optimization is the "tragedy of the commons".

The principle of local optimization can be derived from the more basic dialectical principle stating that "the whole is more than the sum of its parts". If the system (e.g. the wolf pack) would be a simple sum or "aggregate" of its parts, then the outcome for the system as a whole (total prey killed) would be a sum of the outcomes for the parts (prey killed by each wolf separately), but that is clearly not the case when there is interaction (and in particular cooperation) between the parts. Indeed, a pack of wolves together can kill animals (e.g. a moose or a deer), that are too big to be killed by any wolf  separatly. Another way of expressing this aspect of "non-linearity" is to say that the interaction the different wolves are engaged in is a non zero-sum game, that is, the sum of resources that can be gained is not constant, and depends on the specific interactions/cooperation between the wolves.

But it is one thing to read and discuss Peter Principle and its theoretical implications and the other to work for an incompetent manager. Rick Brenner  recommends the following

After the boss commits even a few enormous blunders, some of us conclude that he or she is just incompetent. We begin to worry whether our careers are safe, whether the company is safe, or whether to start looking for another job. Beyond worrying, what else can we do?

Here are some insights and steps from Rick Brenner  article  that you might benefit from considering:

Your boss's poor performance is your boss's problem. What it does to you is your problem. You'll probably do better if you work your own problem. Chris Ortiz in Badbossology.com suggest that telling signs of an  incompetent boss are:

Judge people by hours [spent at work] not performance. This is similar to #8. Again, I am not impressed with overtime junkies. They have lost all perspective on a healthy family/balance. Bad managers will promote the employees that work the most hours and not look at the smart ones who work less……….meaning have better time management. Stop watching the lock.

Act differently in front of their leaders. This is an indication of low self-confidence. They have doubts about their own ability to lead and they will act like little children when authority is present. A confident person acts the same around everyone. Remember, have respect for them, but also have self-respect.

As for the letter he is too benevolent. Acting differently in front of their leaders is just a typical sign of "kiss up, kick down" type of managers. Typically such jerks will tell you that he wants to obey orders from higher authority, no matter how stupid, to take from him the crushing responsibility of thinking for himself. Since the Republic is weak, he is led to break the law out of love for obedience. But in reality he demands rigorous execution of this orders by subordinates and reserves for himself the role of transmission line, absolving him from any responsibility.


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[Jun 05, 2011] Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader by By Chris Ortiz

10/19/2004 | Badbossology.com

Poor leadership surrounds us, it’s a fact of life and they seemingly find a way to keep their jobs. They are more focused on their personal needs and not of the professional needs of those below them. They have a hard time developing their employees because they lack the proper management techniques to do so. A leader is someone who you would follow to a place you would not go alone. Leadership is about action not status.

However, the question is, how do we know when we are dealing with these flaw ridden individuals. A lot of the time, a poor manager can make the perception that he/she is busy and organized. I have developed a small guideline that can help pinpoint these leaders.

Incompetent Leaders will:

1. Delegate work rather than balance work loads. This allows all attention to be diverted from them in case of failure. It may seem to them that are managing their people but in actuality they are creating work imbalances within the group. It can create unnecessary overtime for some and under utilization of others. A good manager is aware of the skill sets of all the people below them and should allocate work accordingly while trying to enhance the skills of everyone to be even more productive.

2. Reduce all answers to Yes or No rather than explaining their reasoning. This is an example of a crisis manager who can not think farther than a few hours ahead. A yes/no manager finds it a waste of time to find the real answer through intellectual thought. They are already thinking about the next crisis.

3. Not separate personal life from professional life. They will bring their personal problem to work. Working for these types of managers can be very dramatic. They are unable to separate their emotional imbalances while trying to manage people. They are less focused and will not give you the attention and direction you need for success.

4. Manage crisis. If you are a company that has crisis managers, then you can say goodbye to innovation and progression. Proactive thinking is critical to the success of any company. If you are not finding ways to stop or reduce the amount of crisis that has to be managed, then your competition will pass you by. Leaders have to think out of the box and make change.

5. Create an environment where mistakes are unacceptable. Being held accountable for wrong decisions is a fear for them. Making mistakes only helps you become a better person, manager, etc. I use the analogy of a basketball player that has no fouls. If they are not going for the ball and taking chances with their opponent, then they are trying hard enough. Take a chance and don’t be scared.

6. Humiliate or reprimand an employee within a group. This is a clear and visible sign of a poor leader. A good leader takes employee problems away from a group setting to a more private setting. If you have a boss that does this, it is time for a visit to human resources.

7. Not stand behind subordinates when they fail. Never leave your people to hang out to dry. Always back them up, right, wrong, or indifferent. If an employee tries their best in a situation and they fail to come through. They should be commended on their effort and not punished for the failure

8. Encourage hard workers not smart workers. I am not impressed with hard workers. A hard worker is usually defined by hours. Smart workers are the ones that I hire and embrace. Smart workers understand the concept of time management and multi-tasking. Poor leaders miss this connection. Smart workers are methodical in their thinking and can generally be successful because of their abilities management projects and time. Hard workers may take twice as long to do the work. It is important to assign work accordingly to the skills and personalities

9. Judge people on hours not performance. This is similar to #8. Again, I am not impressed with overtime junkies. They have lost all perspective on a healthy family/balance. Bad managers will promote the employees that work the most hours and not look at the smart ones who work less……….meaning have better time management. Stop watching the lock.

10. Act differently in front of their leaders. This is an indication of low self-confidence. They have doubts about their own ability to lead and they will act like little children when authority is present. A confident person acts the same around everyone. Remember, have respect for them, but also have self-respect.

Chris Ortiz  is also the author of : 40+ Overtime Under Poor Leadership

Book Available at: Authorhouse.com

[Jul 03, 2010]   When the Boss Feels Inadequate

"Power holders who do not feel personally competent are more likely than those who feel competent to lash out against other people."
June 01, 2010 | Bullying of Academics in Higher Education

ABSTRACT

When and why do power holders seek to harm other people? The present research examined the idea that aggression among the powerful is often the result of a threatened ego. Four studies demonstrated that individuals with power become aggressive when they feel incompetent in the domain of power. Regardless of whether power was measured in the workplace (Studies 1 and 4), manipulated via role recall (Study 2), or assigned in the laboratory (Study 3), it was associated with heightened aggression when paired with a lack of self-perceived competence. As hypothesized, this aggression appeared to be driven by ego threat: Aggressiveness was eliminated among participants whose sense of self-worth was boosted (Studies 3 and 4). Taken together, these findings suggest that (a) power paired with self-perceived incompetence leads to aggression, and (b) this aggressive response is driven by feelings of ego defensiveness. Implications for research on power, competence, and aggression are discussed...

CONCLUSION

The present findings highlight the importance of perceiving personal competence when holding a position of power. Power holders who do not feel personally competent are more likely than those who feel competent to lash out against other people. Additionally, the finding that self-worth boosts assuage the aggressive tendencies of such power holders implies the effectiveness of a strategy commonly employed by underlings: excessive flattery. It is both interesting and ironic to note that such flattery, although perhaps affirming to the ego, may contribute to the incompetent power holder’s ultimate demise—by causing the power holder to lose touch with reality.

Full paper at: http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~nathanaf/power_incompetence_and_aggresssion.pdf

So you want to be a corporate star - 12 tips to help you up the corporate ladder Essence - Find Articles

The first is important because, yes, believe it or not, many folks are still threatened by a Black face in corporate America. The last person you want threatened is your boss, who can either make it easy for you to pursue your vision or make life a day-to-day hell. Therefore, remembering tip number 5, you want your boss to seem as if he or she is the smartest person in the world for hiring you. To do that you have to give credit generously and publicly in front of clients or top management for the great guidance and direction your boss provides in conducting whatever project you are working on.

Simultaneously you also need to let those same people know that most of the good works they are seeing are your own original ideas come to life, and that without all the hard work you put into the project, there would be no project. You need to do this especially if your boss is not the type to be forthcoming with praise (a trait more typical of an empty suit than a power broker). Therefore, in casual conversations with your clients or others, let it be known how at 2:15 in the morning, when you were just going over the documents one last time, it hit you what the answer to the issue was.

Praise your boss in public forums; take credit in one-on-one conversations--but don't overdo it or appear to be showing off.

The Incompetent Boss Broadcast April 3, 2004

If you’ve been in the business world very long, it’s likely you’ve run into a manager who just wasn’t doing the job right. If that hasn’t happened to you yet, it will probably happen sometime in your career. The question is how do you relate and react to the incompetent boss? You need to remember biblical principles in dealing with these people.

Someone once told me that you can learn as much from an incompetent or bad manager as you can from a good one, and I think that’s probably true. But the learning is more difficult and painful!

Their “people skills” are usually sadly lacking, and they are not willing to accept suggestions or help from anyone else.

Well, there’s no question that our relationships with those in authority over us are unique. While we recognize that a person’s level or position does not make that person better than anyone else, we also know that we should respect those who are over us. That is a biblical principle.

Romans 13:1-2 says: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

Now, frankly, this is not an easy passage to either understand or accept. Our natural minds rebel against this statement that all authority comes from God, since we see so much evidence that many people in authority are neither godly nor competent. Can their authority be God-given? What about the Peter-principle; the person who has risen to his or her level of incompetency?

The Apostle Paul is teaching us that God has established authority as the order for the universe. We see it in every part of creation; some things have authority over others. And if it were not for the principle of authority, we would have nothing but chaos. You and I daily submit ourselves to all kinds of authority: red lights, stop signs, the law of gravity, taxes, police officers, etc. Without these authorities governing us, and everyone else, our world would be inhabitable and unmanageable.

The same is true in our business world. We require authority in order to operate a business of any kind. The buck has to stop somewhere. Therefore, the people in positions of authority are part of God’s plan for authority. And as Christians, we are directed to submit ourselves to those people who have risen to those authority positions. To rebel against that is to rebel against God’s order, and, Paul said, it will bring judgment on us.

Obviously there have been and are people in positions of authority who should never be there. But that was true when Paul wrote this letter to the Romans. The principle still holds true; we may not respect the people themselves, but we must respect their position.

This is contrary to the times. I remember a business training class I conducted where a woman said to me privately, “Mary, I’m older and I’m used to the old way of doing things. I treat my boss with lots of respect, do things for him that the other secretaries don’t do. That’s the way I was trained. But the other women in the office are angry at me for treating my boss like I do, and they keep telling me that it makes them look bad and I shouldn’t do it. What do you think?”

She was taught to respect authority almost to the point of fear. But during the 60’s and 70’s we saw a backlash against all authority, when everyone over 30 was seen as suspicious, and that generation was taught to reject and challenge all authority. Neither extreme is right: We should not give respect to authority out of fear, but neither is it right to be disrespectful toward authority. We seem to have much difficulty with balanced and biblical attitudes, don’t we?

Given the general disregard and disrespect we find in our culture for authority, this passage in Romans 13 which tells Christians to submit to authority doesn’t sit well in our ears. That’s not the way the world looks at it.

But as Christians in the marketplace, it is where we start. We have to make certain that in our hearts we accept this principle of authority and recognize that even though the authority over us may be incompetent or inadequate in some way, they are nonetheless in authority and therefore we respect their position.

First Peter 2:18 says that we must submit ourselves to our masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. An incompetent boss is harsh, difficult, unpleasant. But the principle of submitting and respecting their authority still applies. Now, if you’re not willing to apply that biblical principle, you will invite trouble into your life.

Well, how do you apply it when you don’t feel it? You do it by faith, not by feelings. You pray it into your life on a daily basis. You read those verses from Romans 13 often, and you ask God to change your attitude and change your thinking so that you can accept the authority that is over you.

First Timothy 2:1-2 tells us to offer requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. We are to pray for those in authority, and we are to pray for peaceful relationships. Now, if you’re dealing with an incompetent boss, have you been praying for him or her regularly? How have you been praying for that person? This is where it starts, and until you begin to truly pray for them, you won’t see much change in your attitude or in their behavior.

So, we begin by accepting God’s principle of authority, respecting that incompetent boss, praying for them, praying that we will be able to get along with them in peace and display a godly attitude. Praying that they will improve in their job.

Smart employees understand that their job description includes making their boss look good. The world uses that principle as a manipulative tool, but we have other reasons to do it. First Corinthians 13 describes the kind of love we are to develop in our lives, a love that is like God’s love. And that kind of love “does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

As Christians we are to ever be seeking to have God’s love fill us and overflow through us to everyone in our lives, including our incompetent bosses. Therefore, we should try to make them look good, not for manipulation purposes, but because God’s love motivates us to protect others from bad exposure, to delight in the good things they do, not the bad things, to try to cover up their mistakes whenever we can.

Proverbs 17:9 says, “He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” One of the typical things that happens when we encounter an incompetent boss is that we talk about that person in derogatory ways. It’s easy to do. A friend was sharing with me that her boss is very difficult and no one agrees with the way her boss runs the department. She has no trouble gaining confirmation from her co-workers that her negative attitude toward her boss is justified; everyone feels the same way.

It’s likely if you truly work for an incompetent boss that everyone else feels the same way you do, and therefore, at lunch and on breaks that’s what you talk about. Instead of covering up the offense, you repeat the matter and make the situation much worse.

If you work for an incompetent or difficult boss, stop talking about him or her to other people. Pray for that boss; talk to the Lord; get counsel from respected Christians and others inside and outside the company. But don’t be a part of the office gossip and character assassination which usually happens when you have this type of boss.

Now, when you’ve got those biblical principles in place in your life, then you can start to consider whether it is ever right to confront an incompetent boss, or to blow the whistle on them. And there aren’t any black and white answers here because the circumstances would dictate what type of action to take. However, I believe confrontation or exposure should be the last thing we do, after other attempts have failed, and after much prayer.

Here are some guidelines to consider in deciding whether or not to confront your incompetent boss. First, is their incompetency truly affecting the quality of the product or service which the customer receives? Is their inability to manage truly causing unfair treatment for employees, others as well as yourself? Are they doing things which are contrary to your organization’s stated standards and policies? In other words, is there a larger picture here than simply your own irritations and frustrations at having to work for an incompetent manager?

If you’re convinced there is a larger picture, then confrontation may be advisable. But, again, this must be done with great respect for their authority. You look for ways to make suggestions for improvement without pointing the finger at them. You try to find a way to make it look like their idea to which you are contributing. You do everything you can not to undermine their own self-image as the boss.

An incompetent boss is likely to be very insecure. They are most probably quite aware of their shortcomings, though they may not be able to openly admit them or talk about them. Indeed, they may deny them. But underneath the facade, you can be fairly certain they are very uncertain and insecure about their performance. Therefore, they’re going to be worried about someone else showing them up and exposing their shortcomings.

Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness, as we read in Proverbs 16:21, and if we truly want to help our incompetent manager to improve, we have to make our suggestions with carefully chosen words. I am not suggesting we use flattery or deceit of any kind. But if we look long enough, we can find something good to say about them and to them, something positive to lead with, some way to confront without seeming confrontational.

It’s not easy; I know. But let me tell you this. It’s easier than doing it the other way. If you’ve been stewing and fretting over your incompetent boss; if you’re constantly frustrated because you want to get rid of him or her or tell them off; if you’ve been angry at having to put up with their incompetency when you know you could do it better—tell me, has that been easy?

Of course not. It’s a more natural reaction than following biblical principles, but it’s not easier on you or anyone else. It’s harder—takes a much greater mental and emotional toll on you.

Doesn’t it make sense, then, to simply ask God to give you his perspective and his power to deal with your incompetent boss in a Christlike way? The good news is, because of Jesus we have the power to do it. But we have to be willing to allow Him to do it through us.


Mary’s book, Getting Along with People @ Work, gives much good advice in dealing with difficult people. You can order by calling 1-800-292-1218 or online at www.christianworkingwoman.org

What to Do If Your Boss Is Incompetent - Work - Life Balance from Monster.com by Bob Weinstein

If it's any consolation, you're not alone if you're saddled with an incompetent boss.

Thousands of unqualified bosses somehow manage to hold onto their jobs. There are even inept CEOs who couldn't run a broom closet, let alone multimillion-dollar corporations.

How Do You Know If Your Boss Is Incompetent?

Don't berate yourself for not realizing your boss was a hopeless nincompoop before you took the job. How could you know what the future would hold back at the interview when you were totally focused on making a great impression? And your boss probably didn't have any opportunities to demonstrate incompetence while being on his best behavior.

But now that you've settled into your job, the signs of incompetence can be likened to headlights on a pitch-black night. They're unavoidable.

Common clues include:

Take Advantage Your situation looks far worse than it is. Don't be so quick to take the first new job you can find just to get away from your boss. Learning to adjust could be a career-enhancing experience. Incredible as it seems, your boss's ineptitude could be a blessing.

For example, you have the chance to stand out by becoming an asset to your boss. The more you do and accomplish, the better it looks on your resume. It also scores points with management and potential employers.

Try these strategies for turning unfortunate circumstances into an advantage:

Cover in a Crisis. If your boss is away on a business trip or vacation and an issue requiring instant decision-making arises, you have two choices: either turn the problem over to a senior manager or make the decision yourself. Calling in senior managers makes your boss look bad. If you're confident you can take over, you'd be wise to make the decision. Remember: Heroes are born in crisis situations.

Compensate for Deficiencies. It's to your advantage to discover your boss's weak spots and help him in those areas. You want to be part of a winning team, and your boss is this team's captain. You will get much further in a company if you can be associated with successful projects. For example, an incompetent boss will struggle with complex ventures. Guide him through it until everything is completed. You'll look good by making your team look good.

Beware. Watch what you say about your boss. It's very easy to complain and vent frustrations about your less-than-qualified boss to coworkers. Without realizing it, you could be talking to the boss's good friend or someone who wants to score points with him. Keep your opinions to yourself.

Dealing with Incompetent Leaders By Carole Nicolaides

As a mid-level employee, you’ve been working for the ACME Company, a manufacturing firm, for the past two years. Your job performance has been solid, and on occasion, even praiseworthy. However due to the current economic conditions – poor profit earnings, massive layoffs and company restructuring, you now find yourself working for a new boss. Ordinarily reporting to a new leader would not pose a real problem but this time it feels different -- management practices have changed. The team environment has been transformed from one of true collaboration, honest dialogue and a commitment to problem solving to one where backstabbing, finger pointing and plain fear are the norms. Congratulations – you are now under the control of an “incompetent” leader!

An “incompetent” leader by definition is someone whose action destroys camaraderie, instill gossip, encourage dishonesty, and prevent people from speaking freely. “Incompetent” leaders tend to use their own weapons to get noticed and promoted. They usually lack vision, interpersonal communication skills and confidence to resolve conflict.

You might think the term “incompetent” leaders should only be reserved for those in the company’s upper echelon such as the Chief Executive Officer of Chief Financial Offer.

After all, aren’t they the ones entrusted with setting the direction for the entire organization? While this may be true to a certain extent – CEOs do serve as the “compass” for the company, but many CEOs are not directly involved in the daily operations of their organizations. Those responsibilities fall on the shoulders of senior and middle managers. And, it is the “collective leadership” of those managers -- their style of execution, their effective ability to communicate, manage and motivate their teams that keep companies on course. If a leader lacks the competency to manage his or her team, then team morale diminishes, productivity and performance drops, and companies ultimately fail. What’s worst is the fact that today we live in a heavy Information Economy where bad news about a company spreads instantly thereby allowing competitors to profit from your company’s incompetent leadership.

In the quest to attain “better and cheaper staff,” one would think that organizations had all the advantages needed to rid their companies of every single under-performing employee – managers included. However, nothing could be farthest from the truth. Unfortunately in many cases, it is the good, high-performing, mid-level employees who first are shown the door, while ineffective managers – the ones who really need to take a hike – remain.

For whatever reason these foul apples may have been left behind; the fact that they are present causes a lot of problems either through their actions or sometimes through their inactions. The tnt initiatives to detect and remove them before bringing irreparable harm to an organization.

So what can you do to protect yourself and survive working for an “incompetent” leader? Here are some quick tips:

1. Do not make it a personal matter. This is a hard one, simply because working for an incompetent boss is such a personal matter. Remember, that most of these leaders do not have a problem directly with you, but they too are frustrated and are shouting loud their own insecurities -- most likely mirroring to you things that they should be doing.

2. Observe Your Boss. It might sound funny, but notice what is going on around your boss. In case you’ve known or worked with your boss before and you observe a sudden change, then your next step should be to take action right away. The problem could be as simple as someone asking him something way out of his league, or someone talking to him about you and your team. Whatever the reason might be you need to act and confront your boss as soon as possible. If you do this at the beginning, you might be able to stop a snowball effect -- not only for you but also for the entire team. Confrontation does not come easy for most people, yet if you seek a constructive conversation, have an open mind, avoid turning it into a personal attack, you might be able to ease tensions with your boss and also improve his position.

3. Accumulate Facts. Nothing is irrelevant if you work in an unhealthy environment. You need to make sure that you accumulate all the things that matter for your career -- the good as well as the bad stuff. Good things that you’ve done, bad things that have happened to you, and things that you could have done better. The key here is to have nothing against you, nothing that will give people permission to talk about you and question your character.

4. Know Your Value. You might feel beaten down, overworked, under appreciated and doubtless about your true value. Grow up! Things happen and your value does not diminish simply because one cannot see your true value. If you are a professional, do a good job, and the people that work with you will see a direct contribution to the team’s success. Then be sure that you have created your own evangelists – people who will tell others about your true value.

5. Expand Your Network. Now, more than ever, you need to think that working for a large company is not very different than working on your own. You need to learn to promote yourself. People need to know who you are, within your company and outside your company. Successful business owners never stop networking. There are so many things you can learn simply by networking. The key here is to find 2 or 3 networking initiatives that you feel comfortable doing and commit to them.

6. Seek For Comfort Outside Your Office. Many people often make this mistake. They work for an incompetent boss and they start complaining about her or him to a “good friend” who also works for the company. For whatever reason this might happen because you are seeking comfort or love. Sometimes you simply need a sounding board in order to release the pinned-up stress. Do it outside the office and avoid discussing your problems with others with whom you work.

Times have changed and even though it might seem hard to work for someone that you know is not suitable for his or her position, remember things and people appear to us to teach something. The sad reality is most “incompetent” leaders do not get fired; they just move on and reinvent themselves in new companies. The chance that you will either work with the same leaders or someone like them again before your career ends is great. However if you manage to stay calm and think about the lessons you’ve learned and how to counteract incompetent behavior, you will have all the wisdom needed in order to become a better leader yourself in future jobs.

Copyright ©2003, All Rights Reserved

Incorrect observation

Having worked for the old AT&T monopoly which had more levels of management than any other bureaucracy in the world, with an employee-management ration of 2:1, I can say that the Peter Principle is not based upon sound observation. Then having worked for the second largest employer in the USA, the Federal government, I also observed that the Peter Principle is unsound. No employee is ever promoted because that employee was competent or good at the position to which they were initially hired. No one is promoted up the hierarchy because of good job performance. Promotions are based solely upon sexual activity within the managerial group in control and nepotism. Problems are solved by contracting the issue with consultants who simply charge an arm and a leg to give back suggestions from the employees, which the management could have gotten for free if they ever bothered to talk with those employed within the problem area.

The Federal bureaucracy has a slightly different approach depending upon the agency/department. Competent persons are hired from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) register with a 12 month probationary period. The competent probationary employee then proceeds to resolve the problem and bring order to the chaos. However, when the work is done, usually before the end of the 12 month probationary period, the employee is then fired with the Federal agency alleging "poor job performance." The supervisor with the problem area keeps his/her job, which is no more than a prostitute on-call for their superior managers, and the probationary employee is stigmatized as a poor unproductive employee and their career is ended. Even where the lives of the public and employees are endanger from the company or Federal agency, this is how bureaucracy really works.

L. Peter must have been wearing rose-colored glasses when he made his observations.

The Peter Principle revisited

The Hindu Business Line

Incompetence, the word most dreaded by managers. Woe betides the manager who is declared incompetent by his superior and worse, by his subordinates. In the corporate world, it is certainly a state worse than death. The word itself is so potently disagreeable by virtue of its connotations that it is so sedulously avoided in the workplace. So much so that in a recent farewell function when a speaker stated that the retiree had not reached his level of incompetence, the audience thought a grave insult had been heaped on the poor man on the day of his superannuating.

The learned speaker was, in fact, complimenting the retiree on his capabilities, which had never been adequately challenged in the organisation. Some of the audience thought the retiree needed an extension to finish his alleged mission in the organisation, namely indulging in incompetence. This was largely due to the fact that most in the audience, in their late thirties and early forties, had never read the Peter Principle, a seminal work on incompetence.

Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull enunciated the Peter Principle in their eponymous book. Incompetence, according to Peter, was the level at which a man could no longer be equal to his work. Theoretically, all men and women are potentially incompetent; only that some fail only when called upon to play God!

Thus, incompetence is latent in some and blatant in most.

The Peter Principle states: "In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." And this occurs in an organisation by the vice, not virtue, of over promotion. The natural corollary is that over a period of time the entire organisation is manned by incompetent people. The efficiency of a hierarchy is inversely proportional to its Maturity quotient (MQ), where MQ=Sigma employees at level of incompetence multiplied by 100 and in turn divided by Sigma employees in the organisation.

Thus, when MQ reaches hundred no useful work will be accomplished.

Peter wrote his seminal work along with Raymond Hull in the late 1960s . People of my father's generation used to swear by it. But in recent times the Peter Principle is just an occasional brooch that adorns the lapel of a managerial suit. And worse, it is often misused and abused out of context. The number of young students from premier business schools who confess with alacrity their non-cognition of Peter's work finally galvanized me into writing this piece .

The Peter Principle spotlights the fact that every organization feels the overpowering compulsion to promote a person from one level in the hierarchy to the next higher level. The danger of this predilection is that often this is from a level of competence to a level of incompetence. Thus, a competent mechanic is promoted to become an incompetent foreman, a competent foreman is made into an incompetent superintendent, a competent teacher is made into an incompetent vice-principal and a competent soldier is promoted to become an incompetent Field Marshal. In all these cases, the employees had been promoted to a position that they were incompetent to fill. Or, in other words, they have been promoted from a position of competence to a position of incompetence.

Over a period of time, the organization tends to be filled with employees who are incompetent to operate their positions. In such a situation, one may well ask how does the work get done? Peter answers, "Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence." This explains how large bureaucracies and large public utilities turn out work in an even tenor. This is probably due to the fact that at the base of the pyramidal structure of the hierarchy there exists a large workforce who, by virtue of their intelligence and education, is still functioning at levels where they are superior to their job or in other words competent. This notwithstanding, organizations regularly indulge in over promotion. This results in a number of situations often catastrophic to organizational fortunes, but comic as a managerial spectacle.

Peter sums up such promotions as pseudo promotions; the `lateral arabesque' is nothing but a pseudo promotion consisting of a new title and an office in a remote part of the building. Peter cites the example of a competent office manager who, after promotion, found himself at the same salary working as coordinator of inter-departmental communications, supervising the filing of second copies of inter-office memos. The other pseudo promotion is the `free-floating apex', which is nothing but a point in an organization where there is no organization below the promoted employee. He has nothing to do and nobody to supervise. The concept of `percussive sublimation' is also similar wherein an incompetent manager is kicked upstairs to get him out of the way.

The moot question "Who defines competence" is answered by Peter: "His superior in the hierarchy determines the competence of an employee. If the superior is on the level of competence, he will evaluate his subordinate based on his output such as his productivity or his achievement of whatever goals he has been set." But a superior who has reached his level of incompetence is likely to evaluate on the basis of his inputs such as promptness, neatness, and courtesy to his superiors, internal paper work, conformity to rules and so on. Peter says that in such a situation, internal consistency is valued more highly than efficient service. This Peter calls as the `Peter's Inversion'. Sadly the `inverts' have the ability to procure more promotions in an organization.

Hierarchical exfoliation

Peter states that in any organization the distribution of super competent, competent, incompetent and super incompetent people occurs in the pattern of a bell curve, with super incompetent and super competent people being on the fringes of the curve , and the large majority of the competent people occurring on either side of the median. Super competence, Peter points out, is more hazardous than incompetence since super competence disrupts the hierarchy. Peter cites the example of E. Beaver, a probationary primary school teacher who put into practice what she had learnt in college about accommodating the individual differences of her pupils. As a consequence, the brighter among the pupils finished the three years' work in one year. Since she had disrupted the hierarchy, her contract was terminated. The process of an exfoliation of the extremes namely the super incompetence and the super competent, Peter calls `hierarchical exfoliation'. In the chapter `Follower and Leaders', Peter points out the hierarchiological fallacies. He cites the example of the mother of George Washington who, when asked how her son was so accomplished as a General, answered: "I taught him to obey." Peter asks how the ability to lead depends on the ability to follow, as though the ability to float depends on the ability to sink. Peter has classified incompetence into three categories: Physical incompetence where a man who had been promoted beyond his physical capabilities; social incompetence where a man is promoted to a step which is beyond his social capability; and emotional incompetence where a person is promoted to a level which is beyond his emotional capacity. Despite being incompetent, a number of candidates find themselves promoted to higher echelons in the hierarchy. This results in their suffering from symptoms which are generally associated with success. These are peptic ulcer, alcoholism, high blood pressure, skipped heartbeat and many more. Those who suffer from these, Peter describes as those who have reached the final placement syndrome (FPS). Peter lists one sign of FPS — `abnormal tabulology', which is an unusual and highly significant arrangement of his desk such as:

Phonophilia: In this, the incompetent manager masks his incompetence by keeping an array on telephones and communication devices with flashing lights, hot lines and so on.

Papyrophobia: The papyrophobe swears by a clean desk and keeps papers strictly out as each sheet reminds him of the work he is unable to do.

Papyromania: The exact opposite of the papyrophobe, he clutters his desk with papers and tries to give an impression that he has too much to do.

Fileophilia: An obsession with record keeping and filing in the correct manner as this keeps him from tackling the burning situation that needs to be addressed.

Tabulatory gigantism: A yen to have the largest desk in the office.

The psychological manifestations of FPS are self pity; denigration of the present and glorification of the past — Peter calls this the `Auld Lang Syne syndrome'; irrational prejudice similar to Julius Caesar's abhorrence of the "lean and hungry" looking Cassio or Napoleon's preference for men with long noses; rigor cartis which is an obsession with flow charts and pie charts; and compulsive alternation which is the inability to read a report and instead ask a brief of an executive summary from the subordinate. "Look I have no time to wade through all this garbage. Tell me about this in your own words and briefly," writes Peter. An extreme form of FPS is the `cachinatory inertia' in which the subject is more interested in telling jokes than getting on with the business.

I am sure that everyone sees something of himself in Peter's creative descriptions of the managerial maladies. Every young manager should make it a point to get hold of the Peter Principle and read it over and over again. If not anything, it is a safe bet for an afternoon of rib tickling laughter and a lingering sense of subtle edification.

by Rick Brenner

After the boss commits even a few enormous blunders, some of us conclude that he or she is just incompetent. We begin to worry whether our careers are safe, whether the company is safe, or whether to start looking for another job. Beyond worrying, what else can we do?

Let's say, hypothetically, that your latest project has just crashed in flames because your boss forgot to sign off on the extension for the 15 contractors who were staffing it, and they got reassigned. You can get them back in three weeks, but you'll never meet the deadline now. You've just about had it, and you've decided that your boss is totally incompetent.

All you really know is that your boss's performance has been pretty dismal. Incompetence is just one possible explanation. For instance, your boss might be distracted by problems at home — a sick parent or child, a death, a troubled marriage, substance abuse or identity theft, to name just a few possibilities.

As subordinates, we rarely have enough data to support any diagnosis of the causes of our bosses' poor performance. Without such data, attributing the cause of the problem to someone's character or lack of talent could be an example of a common mistake called the Fundamental Attribution Error.

[Oct 19, 2004]Ten Signs of an Incompetent Leader  by Chris Ortiz

Chris Ortiz ia an author: 40+ Overtime Under Poor Leadership. The book Available at: Authorhouse.com

Poor leadership surrounds us, it’s a fact of life and they seemingly find a way to keep their jobs. They are more focused on their personal needs and not of the professional needs of those below them. They have a hard time developing their employees because they lack the proper management techniques to do so. A leader is someone who you would follow to a place you would not go alone. Leadership is about action not status.

However, the question is, how do we know when we are dealing with these flaw ridden individuals. A lot of the time, a poor manager can make the perception that he/she is busy and organized. I have developed a small guideline that can help pinpoint these leaders.

Incompetent Leaders will:

1. Delegate work rather than balance work loads. This allows all attention to be diverted from them in case of failure. It may seem to them that are managing their people but in actuality they are creating work imbalances within the group. It can create unnecessary overtime for some and under utilization of others. A good manager is aware of the skill sets of all the people below them and should allocate work accordingly while trying to enhance the skills of everyone to be even more productive.

2. Reduce all answers to Yes or No rather than explaining their reasoning. This is an example of a crisis manager who can not think farther than a few hours ahead. A yes/no manager finds it a waste of time to find the real answer through intellectual thought. They are already thinking about the next crisis.

3. Not separate personal life from professional life. They will bring their personal problem to work. Working for these types of managers can be very dramatic. They are unable to separate their emotional imbalances while trying to manage people. They are less focused and will not give you the attention and direction you need for success.

4. Manage crisis. If you are a company that has crisis managers, then you can say goodbye to innovation and progression. Proactive thinking is critical to the success of any company. If you are not finding ways to stop or reduce the amount of crisis that has to be managed, then your competition will pass you by. Leaders have to think out of the box and make change.

5. Create an environment where mistakes are unacceptable. Being held accountable for wrong decisions is a fear for them. Making mistakes only helps you become a better person, manager, etc. I use the analogy of a basketball player that has no fouls. If they are not going for the ball and taking chances with their opponent, then they are trying hard enough. Take a chance and don’t be scared.

6. Humiliate or reprimand an employee within a group. This is a clear and visible sign of a poor leader. A good leader takes employee problems away from a group setting to a more private setting. If you have a boss that does this, it is time for a visit to human resources.

7. Not stand behind subordinates when they fail. Never leave your people to hang out to dry. Always back them up, right, wrong, or indifferent. If an employee tries their best in a situation and they fail to come through. They should be commended on their effort and not punished for the failure

8. Encourage hard workers not smart workers. I am not impressed with hard workers. A hard worker is usually defined by hours. Smart workers are the ones that I hire and embrace. Smart workers understand the concept of time management and multi-tasking. Poor leaders miss this connection. Smart workers are methodical in their thinking and can generally be successful because of their abilities management projects and time. Hard workers may take twice as long to do the work. It is important to assign work accordingly to the skills and personalities

9. Judge people on hours not performance. This is similar to #8. Again, I am not impressed with overtime junkies. They have lost all perspective on a healthy family/balance. Bad managers will promote the employees that work the most hours and not look at the smart ones who work less……….meaning have better time management. Stop watching the lock.

10. Act differently in front of their leaders. This is an indication of low self-confidence. They have doubts about their own ability to lead and they will act like little children when authority is present. A confident person acts the same around everyone. Remember, have respect for them, but also have self-respect.

How to avoid recruiting the incompetent by Geoffrey King of Cambridge Recruitment Consultants.

Incompetent managers often make their subordinates' lives quite miserable and more senior managers are often too slow in recognising the symptoms. Lower down the pecking order, it is more transparent - as the incompetent manager is, surprisingly, willing to let down their guard.

Incompetence is something that is not picked up by conventional selection procedures and it is certainly not visible at an interview. So what can you do to ensure that you do not recruit the incompetent?

Well, the first thing is to put some rigour into your selection procedures. I am often astounded by the fact that, with monotonous frequency, new employers rehire so many people who have frankly failed in most of the roles they have assumed.

This has puzzled me for some time. Maybe the incompetent are attracted to fellow incompetents? This was my first take on the subject (and one I think still holds water!)

But then the penny dropped. The sole thing about my sample is that once, or possibly even twice, the incompetent person had worked for a very well known employer. They had then traded on this throughout their career.

This is in some ways a replaying of the well known 'halo effect' - the phenomenon where, because there appears to be one excellent thing about a person, everything else is equally excellent! Wish this were true!

Research by eminent psychologists has identified seven themes associated with managers who fail. These include:

  • The inability to delegate or prioritise
  • Adopting a reactive rather than proactive stance at work
  • Being poor at maintaining relationships and networks
  • Being poor at building teams
  • Demonstrating poor judgement
  • Being slow to learn new things
  • And they tend to have an overriding personality defect, which is often manifested by an individual being insensitive, arrogant, cold, aloof and generally only 'out for number one'.
  • They are also poor performers, tending not to reach set objectives ever.
  • They also tend to betray people with regularity.


    Geoffrey King is a Director of Cambridge Recruitment Consultants. Contact him on geoffrey@crcsearch.com

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    Recommended Books

    Wiley The Incompetent Manager

    A surprisingly large number of people claim to have worked for a manager who was clearly incompetent. Some people even believe, that in certain sectors, the incompetent outnumber the competent.

    This book looks at when, why and how managers become incompetent and what to do about it. It does so with both science and humour by reviewing what we know about competences, about personality theory and about various salient psychiatric disorders.

    So many management books are unrealistically optimistic. They portray management as a simple task once one has absorbed the magic silver bullet message of the book. But managing people is, and will remain difficult as any manager knows. Management is about ability and skills, attitude and values, knowledge and understanding, but also about personality and mental stability.

    This text investigates normal and abnormal incompetence. The former is where people have a poor fit between themselves (personality and ability) and the job. Through post selection, inadequate training, changes in the job or unwise promotion misfits occur which leads to incompetence.

    The longest chapter in the book looks at abnormal incompetence and what are called personality disorders. Well-known psychiatric disorders are described in detail and how to spot these in managers. Thus, the paranoid or sociopathic, narcissistic or passive-aggressive types are described in everyday language as well as how to deal with them. More importantly, the book considers how the pathologically incompetent managers influence organizations and groups to fulfil their often bizarre needs and wishes. The final section of the book attempts to help the reader correctly diagnose incompetence. It also offers various possible cures: the emphasis is that cure follows correct diagnoses. Some cures for incompetence actually accentuate it.

    The book is both serious and funny. The incompetent manager is no laughing matter for those managed by them. But the sort of thing some incompetent managers believe and do can be, at least for the onlooker, very funny indeed.

    Part I - Incompetence at Work.

    Chapter 1 Military and Management Incompetence.

    Chapter 2 The Nature of Incompetence.

    Chapter 3 Paradoxical Incompetence and Management Madness.

    Chapter 4 The Concept of Competence.

    Part II - The Causes of Incompetence.

    Chapter 5 The Causes of Incompetencies: Personality Traits.

    Chapter 6 Pathological Incompetence.

    Chapter 7 Teams and Team Managers.

    Part III - Curing the Problem.

    Chapter 8 Possible Cures of Management Incompetence.

    References.

     



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    The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

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    Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

     

    The Last but not Least


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    Last updated: April 01, 2012