Incompetent Men

I speak in hyperbole a lot. My husband actually keeps a list of my best and worsts on his phone and will reference it with some regularity.  “Okay, sure it’s gross, but is it grosser than a picture of a Big Mac being held by dirty hands with grime under the fingers nails?” (That’s currently the grossest thing I’ve ever seen,  which dethroned a picture of earwax the size of a dime. I’ll let you decide which is grossest to you personally.) But I digress…

Having said all that, this might very well be my favorite article.  EVER.  In 2013, Harvard Business Review published Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s musings titled Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become LeadersWhile I’m bummed I didn’t see it until just now, I’m going to chose to celebrate the fact that it came across my path at all.

I won’t summarize the whole article for you since it’s a quick and thoughtful read and I can’s make the case better than the author himself. He makes a number of good points about what we might consider traditional gender leadership styles and behaviors that actually result in good leadership, but what I love most about the article is summed up here:

…there is no denying that women’s path to leadership positions is paved with many barriers including a very thick glass ceiling. But a much bigger problem is the lack of career obstacles for incompetent men…

Yes, please! I LOVE flipping this problem on its head. Rather than saying we have too few competent women in leadership roles, let’s look at why we have so many incompetent men. How have they continued to advance? Why haven’t we stopped this? What should we be doing differently? When I think about what I personally look for in a leader, it’s someone who I truly respect, someone who is authentic and someone who lets me do what I do well. These people may or may not be charismatic leaders, but damn, they get shit handled. And that’s why I value their leadership and willingly follow.

As Chamorro-Premuzic states “most of the character traits that are truly advantageous for effective leadership are predominantly found in those who fail to impress others about their talent for management.” It’s not about being able to confidently sell – it’s about actually being able to lead a team. Let’s change the conversation about what we need and be very clear about what behaviors we want and who we let in the door. It’s not just enough to clear the path for competent women – we need to obscure the path for incompetent men at the same time.


Catherine finds nothing more attractive than competence and whatever form it comes in. She is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

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