How do you spot an incompetent leader before you work for one? Or worse, before your promote one to wreak havoc on your business? ?♂️
So many of us have worked for a poor leader in the past (and I sympathise with those working for a poor leader now) – but how can you spot a poor / incompetent leader before you work for one?
As written in the HBR Article ‘How To Spot An Incompetent Leader’ , the author Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic states ‘the essence of incompetent leadership is easy to define: it is a function of the detrimental effects a leader has on their subordinates, followers, or organisation.’
The HBR article focusses on the understanding between competence and confidence – a greater focus on competence is more likely to produce a good leader, whereas an over-reliance on confidence (not the best indicator of leadership skill) can produce poor leaders. This is also a trait over-represented in men compared to women.
How can you avoid promoting or hiring an incompetent leader?
There are a few simple ways I have identified in working in this space in the last 20 years:
1️⃣ Look at the culture of the team they currently lead. The cultures of teams are often the product of the values and behaviours of their leaders – if the team is ‘off’, there is a good chance it is due to the leaders behaviour.
2️⃣ Get them to complete a comprehensive leadership assessment. Understanding the strengths and skills of the leader is important, not only so you can determine if their strengths and weaknesses suit your culture, but also to help determine what development activities you may need to assist them in. Using a good tool like the Leadership Circle or the Velocity Leadership CheckPoint can assist greatly in determining strengths and skills.
Attitude to Learning
3️⃣ What is their attitude to leadership coaching and training? In my experience, the worst / incompetent leaders have a narcissistic streak that results in a ‘I already know it all’ attitude, and they are unlikely to accept any form of training for themselves. The best leaders almost always seek further coaching / training to develop their skills.
As the article highlights – ‘it is easy to be seduced by incompetence’. That said, the tools and options are there if you want to look and ensure that you hire and work with competent rather than incompetent leaders. That little bit of research could make the world of difference to your team, your business and your culture.