Catching the right fish

With globalisation, all organisations can fish for new recruits in the one big pond

But the most successful anglers are they who hire on merit, not in their own image, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a professor of business psychology at Columbia University in his book Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders

An article by Rosamund Urwin in The Times goes on to quote Tomas saying bosses need “data-driven assessment i.e. CVs, psychological tests and analysis of past performance” to identify potential winners who might be humble and understated in interviews compared with other self-aggrandising applicants

At present, most organisations tend to haul on-board the wrong candidates and then promote them up corporate ladders:

  • “Boss interviewers are not great at judging competence and can be unaware of interviewees’ limitations
  • Many can charm people initially but don’t make good bosses, being more prone to bullying and harassment, and resistant to negative feedback
  • They blame others for their mistakes and take credit for others’ achievements”

Hence survey after survey show a majority of employees believe they have a bad manager

Tomas says: “People get rewarded for sucking up when leadership should be about managing down – turning a bunch of people into a high-performing team – but bosses don’t care about people development, they’re more focused on politics and, sadly, this works for them”

One major hurdle, according to Tomas, is that most people think a good leader is overconfident, narcissistic, inspirational, even bullying – citing Steve Jobs and Philip Green as examples – when the qualities that make a great leader are humility, integrity and competence – virtues (he believes) which are more readily found in women like Angela Merkel – they lead in a more transformational way, are less likely to be absentee leaders and have more emotional intelligence

Tomas’s concludes with: “The people who are best at something tend to be very self-critical”

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