Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic (via Stowe Boyd), in an article that apparently got turned into a book, argues the main cause of bad leadership is our cultural inability to recognize good leaders, or identify the qualities of good leadership. Instead, we conflate being a charismatic blowhard for being competent at leading people and organizations. This has considerable gendered repercussions:
This is consistent with the finding that leaderless groups have a natural tendency to elect self-centered, overconfident and narcissistic individuals as leaders, and that these personality characteristics are not equally common in men and women.
In other words, what it takes to get the job is not just different from, but also the reverse of, what it takes to do the job well. As a result, too many incompetent people are promoted to management jobs, and promoted over more competent people.
Chamorro-Premuzic arguments are a good counterpoint to the lean in rhetoric (which could be caricatured as: “women should play the game to win”). Instead, we should set the game straight, reflect on what good leadership is, and where hierarchy is actually needed.
His strongest points come from his recognition of the elephant in the room: the wrong people are given the wrong incentives, and do all the wrong things in leadership and management positions. I'm less convinced by his idea that AI would erase bias in recruitment (“less convinced” is a way of saying I'm utterly persuaded that this effort is doomed from the start, ill inspired, borderline evil, and shows an abysmal lack of thought) – but then, he works for a temp work company that would stand to cut costs a lot if its software replaced its recruiters.
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