Leadership Inspirations – Incompetence Begets Incompetence

“Incompetency begets incompetency. The last thing a guy who isn’t sure of himself wants is a guy backing him up who is sure of himself.”

Lee Iacocca
former President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board, Chrysler Corporation

The sad fact is that this situation occurs all too often. Instead of nurturing their rising stars, insecure executives and managers feel their positions and reputations are threatened by these top performers and act to:

  • take personal credit for the rising star’s performance output and results
  • hide the star performer from the view of other executives and managers by preventing their participation in cross disciplinary initiatives, public presentations, and interaction with other executives and managers
  • diminish the star’s performance evaluation ratings with claims that the star intimidates seniors and/or is too aggressive

These behaviors disenfranchise star performers; resulting in reduced output and elevated attrition. The net result, of course, is diminished organizational performance and value creation, the exact opposite of what the executive or manager is charged to achieve.

Insecure executives and managers fail to recognize that they are not competing with their subordinates. Executives and managers are evaluated on their ability to lead others to the achievement of superior results, their subordinates on their ability to perform the tasks from which those results are derived. Therefore, subordinates’ superior performance does not place executives and managers at risk. To the contrary, a subordinate’s superior performance is often attributed to the capable leadership of the individual’s manager. Competent executives and managers understand this concept and surround themselves with superstar performers. Incompetent and insecure executives and managers do not recognize this fact and subsequently surround themselves with even less competent subordinates; condemning themselves and their organizations to inferior performance.

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