The Peter Principle revisited

Do you use promotion to secure a status quo? Or do you use it to reward the true leaders and heretics in your organisation?

In some organisations I’ve worked with and at over the past few years people were assigned leadership positions because

  • they started the business
  • they were entitled to a promotion and a leadership role was all the company could provide
  • they were supposed to take over the family business
  • they were making their way to yet another position without being actually interested in the current
  • the management feared another position would not be appropriate and cause the employer to resign
  • people bullshitted their way in
  • they were appointed manager at one time and now presume they have to get a leadership position everywhere
  • they have the right sex
  • they look good
  • they are not as good as the ones who assign the positions
  • somebody had to do the job right?

Main point: a lot of people get promoted to a leadership role for anything but their display of leadership in that particular tribe or organization.

These people were appointed leaders through automanagement, through the ideology of “keeping things the way they were” and “keeping things under control”.

Bad move.

You just don’t become a leader because you get assigned to a leadership position. Ideally, you get yourself into a leadership position because you’ve lead before.

If systems crash, if companies find themselves outperformed one day, it’s usually due to poor leadership and due to getting the wrong people to lead.

If you think the Peter Principle is all about promoting annoying people out of the way, think again.

If you promote people for the wrong reasons, they’ll get in the way at one point or the other.

So what to do about this? Can we change the system at once?

Not at once, but one step at the time.

The Peter Principle is part of a business culture. You don’t change a culture overnight.

You change it by making the change yourself, by taking on things differently.

Have the right people appointed. You’ll see what happens.

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