Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

BE2C2 Report – Self-confidence is not enough, competence matters in leadership positions. According to a renowned talent scientist, there’s a huge difference between self-confidence and competency. This distinction becomes highly significant on a wider scale, where performance is a must and critical for success, such as firefighting or rowing a boat through the historical Strait of Gibraltar, metaphorically speaking.

The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and separates Gibraltar and Peninsular Spain in Europe from Morocco and Ceuta in Africa. The name comes from the Rock of Gibraltar, which in turn originates from the Arabic Jebel Tariq named after Tariq ibn Ziyad (Wikipedia)

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic says we’re not picking leaders in the right way. While we should be promoting people based on their competence and potential, it’s often the incompetent, overconfident candidates — most of them men — who get ahead. 

“Confidence is how good one thinks of himself or herself, and he or she may be, while competence is how good one really is in performing.”

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an organizational psychologist who works mostly in the areas of personality profiling, people analytics, and leadership development.

Chamorro argues that there is a pathological mismatch between the qualities that seduce us in a leader and those that are needed to be an effective leader.

His research on the psychology of leadership shows that if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence, humility rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism, we would not just end up with more competent leaders, but also more women leaders.

To improve leadership across the board, we need to focus on the metrics proven to enhance performance and set higher standards for everyone, says Chamorro.

In fact, he argues, the main obstacle preventing competent women from becoming leaders is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men.

Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in psychological profiling, talent management, leadership development, and people analytics. He is the Chief Talent Scientist at Manpower Group, co-founder and CEO of DeeperSignals and Metaprofiling, and Professor of Business Psychology at both University College London, and Columbia University. He has previously held academic positions at New York University and the London School of Economics, and lectured at Harvard Business School, Stanford Business School, London Business School, Johns Hopkins, IMD, and INSEAD, as well as being the CEO at Hogan Assessment Systems. Dr. Tomas has published 10 books and over 150 scientific papers, making him one of the most prolific social scientists of his generation. His work has received awards by the American Psychological Association and the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology, to which he is a Fellow. The above talk was given at a TEDx event but independently organized by a local community.

With input from Aysha Ahmed of Karachi.

(BE2C2   Report is a data journalism initiative of Irshad Salim Associates, a New Jersey, USA, based consulting firm in association with BE2C2 in Pakistan)