How to spot incompetent managers in your team

BD bad manager


Our global work environment surely does not subside without the occasional incompetent leader destroying our work motivation. Our Kenyan dynamic organisations are no different. Many professionals have encountered the daunting challenge of adapting to leadership changes.

These transitions, whether anticipated or sudden, have the power to dramatically alter the course of our career and personal well-being. A once thriving job environment, buoyed by collegiality, friendliness, and shared vision, can quickly devolve into a quagmire of inefficiency and discontent under the helm of an ineffectual leader.

The introduction of such a figure into the workplace not only disrupts the established harmony but also poses significant risks to the collective morale and productivity of the team.

The presence of an inept leader at the head of a department or organisation often heralds a period of turmoil and frustration for its members. Employees find themselves grappling with a decline in motivation, increased stress levels, and a pervasive sense of disenfranchisement. The ripple effects of such managers are not confined to the professional sphere alone but extend into personal lives, straining relationships and eroding our cherished work-life balance. It becomes increasingly clear that the repercussions of poor leadership extend far beyond missed targets or declined profits, deeply affecting the individual lives of those within the entity.

While most leadership research and discussions revolve around positive leadership attributes, let us spend today draw the insightful research of Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. It becomes evident that the root of many organisational woes lies in the distinction between confidence and competence within leadership roles.

The research sheds light on a critical oversight in the evaluation of potential leaders involving the conflation of self-assurance with ability. Such misjudgments have led to the ascendancy of leaders who, despite their assertiveness, lack the necessary skills and awareness to guide their teams to success.

The findings offer a compelling argument for a reevaluation of how we identify and promote individuals into positions of power.

While our East African organisations stand at a crossroads, tasked with the critical responsibility of nurturing an environment where competent leadership thrives, it also calls for a systemic overhaul of the selection process, prioritising traits that truly matter.

We must focus on empathy, integrity, and a genuine aptitude for leadership rather than the unconscious bias preference for confidence that hides a leader’s true skills. By fostering a culture that values the appropriate leadership qualities, companies can ensure that their leadership not only possesses the necessary skills to excel but also aligns with the core values and vision of the firm.

To mitigate the impact of incompetent leadership, organisations must adopt proactive strategies for leadership development entailing offering comprehensive training programmes, mentorship opportunities, and continuous feedback mechanisms to refine the skills of current and aspiring leaders.

Such initiatives not only empower individuals to excel in their roles but also safeguard the company against the pitfalls of unqualified leadership.

The research provides a list of nine insightful questions designed to evaluate the potential effects of a leader on their team. These questions delve into aspects such as self-perception of leadership talent, ability to influence, and susceptibility to overconfidence as follows:

Do you have an exceptional talent for leadership? Would most people want to be like you? Do you rarely make mistakes at work? Are you blessed with a natural charisma? Are you able to achieve anything you want, just by putting your mind to it? Do you have a special gift for playing office politics?

Are you destined to be successful? Is it easier for you to fool people, than for people to fool you? Are you just too talented to fake humility?

By critically assessing candidates against these criteria, organisations can better predict the impact of prospective leaders on team dynamics and overall effectiveness. Arrogant and overconfident leaders cannot help boasting on the above list of nine questions that reliably measure issues and you as the Board, human resources director, or CEO can sift through and pick up these early warning signs.

On the employee side, the path to avoiding the trap of incompetence lies in self-awareness and a commitment to continuous improvement. Engaging in self-reflection, seeking feedback, and actively pursuing professional development opportunities are crucial steps in building a robust leadership profile. By embodying the qualities of effective leadership, individuals can contribute to a positive organisational culture and inspire others to follow suit.

Have a management or leadership issue, question, or challenge? Reach out to Dr Scott through @ScottProfessor on X or email [email protected]

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