Psychologist: That’s why so many incompetent managers are male

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“A lot of managers don’t really want to lead, they were somehow made to do so. Others absolutely want to lead, but they can’t, ”said occupational psychologist Markus Dobler in a lecture on bad bosses in 2019.

Most of you should have immediately thought of at least one person about the latter group.

The result is shocking: A Gallup study from 2019 shows that almost six million employees in Germany have quit internally. 650,000 of them are ready to change jobs and are actively looking for another job. And only very few (15 percent) have a high emotional bond with their company. This leads to enormous economic damage of up to 122 billion euros annually.

According to the study, lack of leadership skills are responsible for poor employee retention. The problem: In contrast to their employees, an incompetent manager is often completely convinced of their own competence.

In a TED talk, organizational psychologist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explained why incompetent people always make it to the management level and why they are mostly male.

Men consider themselves more talented than women more often than they actually are

“Men are more likely than women to have a wrong, exaggerated idea of ​​their own talent,” said Chamorro-Premuzic. The phenomenon is known as the Dunning Kruger effect, the name was coined by the psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger from Cornell University. In 1999, they were able to demonstrate in a study that people with little skills tend to overestimate their skills.

This leads to a side effect that is pleasant for them, but less pleasant for others: you are more likely to have a successful career. “The best way to convince other people that you are better than you really are is to deceive yourself first,” said the psychologist.

According to Chamorro-Premuzic, the reason why they get away with it is that it is difficult for us humans to distinguish between self-confidence and competence. “In different cultures and countries, we tend to assume that confident people have a higher potential for a leadership position.” There is only a very small overlap between self-confidence (how good people consider themselves in a field) and actual competence in leadership qualities (how good they actually are at something).

Charisma does not stand for talent

Another reason, according to Chamorro-Premuzic, is a trend that goes hand in hand with digitization: the need for charming and entertaining leaders.

This is noticeable, for example, at Netflix and Co.: Don Draper, Jordan Belfort or even Stromberg – they are all either charismatic or just plain funny. But are they also good bosses? Not really.

“In reality, the best executives are humble rather than charismatic, so much that they are sometimes even boring,” said Chamorro-Premuzic.

Narcissists initially appear attractive

The third reason why incompetent men end up in management positions more often is the psychologist who mentions the attraction that narcissists exert on others. In a study, Graz psychologists, for example, were able to use a speed dating experiment to show that narcissists are above average attractive, at least in the short term.

“We have always admired famous people, but our admiration for people who admire themselves and are simply known for being famous has been increasing for decades,” said Chamorro-Premuzic.

Read also: Managing Director receives miserable grades from employees and radically changes his management style

Narcissistic bosses see their leadership position as their right, they lack empathy and self-control. “In contrast, the best leaders keep their narcissism in check. Other people are very important to them, they also pay attention to what others think of them and they spend a lot of time thinking about their image – which is why there are so few scandals about them. ”

This article was published by in January 2020. It has now been checked and updated.


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