Green Key Blog

News for the way you work

What's Charisma Got to Do With Competence?

July 1st, 2019

Book cover incompetent men

Anyone who's actually read The Peter Principle will tell you that just because someone is incredibly good at their current job does not mean they will be good when promoted up the career ladder. As Google's Project Oxygen demonstrated, technical prowess was the least important of the 8 traits that make for effective managers.

Now comes a book that tells us that 50 years after the principle was first announced, we're still being blinded by the wrong criteria when selecting leaders.

In Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (And How to Fix It), Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, chief talent scientist at ManpowerGroup and a professor of business psychology at University College London and at Columbia University, tells us that we tend to equate leadership with confidence and charisma, traits statistically associated more with men than women.

In an Inc. article about the book and Chamorro-Premuzic's research, we're reminded of something we might realize if we actually analyzed it, but which we don't and that is that, "There is in fact no relationship between confidence and competence." As the article explains, "Competence is how good you are at something. Confidence is how good you think you are at something."

Charisma, like confidence, also misleads us into thinking a person is leadership material.

"Charisma clouds people's evaluations of how leaders actually perform. Rather than being objective, we are less judgmental about leaders' performance when we see them as charismatic, and we are more critical when we don't," says Chamorro-Premuzic.

In his view -- and supported by multiple studies and research, including Google's -- the best leaders are those who combine smarts with emotional intelligence. The ingredients of the latter include empathy, self-awareness, humility and openness, traits more often associated with women than men.

According to Chamorro-Premuzic, the best leaders combine IQ (intellectual intelligence) with EQ (emotional intelligence), which enable personal effectiveness and self-awareness.

"What it takes to get a leadership role," concludes the Inc. article, "Is nearly opposite of what it takes to do it well and keep the role. "

Leave a Reply

comments powered by Disqus