Over the last three decades in the workforce, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to pause and ask myself, “How did this guy get to the corner office?” Sometimes, I will answer my own question with inane chatter like, “He shows up every single day!”
Thankfully, social scientists have looked into the matter, and now we can all see the source of this particular corporate ineptitude. According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, CEO of Hogan Assessments, and professor of business psychology at University College London, failing to hire qualified women, in favor of the fool’s progress, is all a big mistake.
Because we commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.
…The paradoxical implication is that the same psychological characteristics that enable male managers to rise to the top of the corporate or political ladder are actually responsible for their downfall. In other words, what it takes to get the job is not just different from, but also the reverse of, what it takes to do the job well.
In the agency business, presenting ideas to a creative director or account director who doesn’t deserve his position, the swank office, or inflated salary is maddening. These leaders are meant to be coaches inside the agency, but they’re more like amateur referees with an agenda (to stay in the game at all costs).
Naturally, bad managers exist in client companies too. There’s always room for another mediocre man on the leadership team.
The list of offenses that the mediocre men in question are guilty of is long—it runs the gamut from blatant disrespect to deflection of any responsibility for anything, ever.
One of the newer trends in corporate disrespect is a particularly pernicious violation. When confronted with questions that are in some way difficult to answer, you simply leave the questions unanswered, as if they never happened or won’t reoccur. The practice is called “ghosting” and it takes the passive-aggressive cake.
Emma Kenny, psychologist, writer and creator of Sochal, says: “Learning to say ‘no’, to let people down or confront issues professionally takes time to master – and for many younger professionals, simply ignoring the issue at hand can feel like an easier solution. The problem, of course, is this insecurity comes across as rude, arrogant or dismissive – and in the long term causes professional animosity.”