Why managers fail - Pt 7

Failure to assess your own competence

In many ways this related to the prior posting about inability to recognise weaknesses. But it actually goes further than that: people simply over-rate themselves. We have been fed an American diet of:

  • over-achievement,
  • positive thinking,
  • self-belief,

that we end up believing our own press. Capability and talent is distributed on a normal distribution curve. Half the world is below average. (Of course the readers of this blog do not fall into that half J.) But the reality is that not everybody gets to be no 1, gets to be the CEO or whatever.

Because people believe they are better than they really are, they end doing poorly in jobs/ situations which they never should have let themselves get into. (May I confess that I am not exempted.) It has been documented a long time ago that there is a Peter Principle at play in the management ranks. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Principle) The phenomenon of overestimating our abilities is related to the Peter Principle: we push ourselves to the level of incompetence (the organisation keeps us there) and the end result is a dysfunctional organisation and an unhappy manager.)

Happiness is to be discovered within the boundaries of your own capabilities. Pushing those boundaries is one thing, crossing them is cause for unhappiness and a guarantee of failure.