Breeding Incompetent leaders….

‘I would have done a much better job’ or ‘even a fresher will make better decisions’ or ‘What wrong did I do in life to deserve such a …..leader’, a vast majority of subordinates get this thought often during their career but unfortunately most just accept it the way it is, keep applauding even the worst of the decisions taken by incompetent leaders while some do take a perceived bold step of resigning and moving on but even that has no effect on the functioning of the leaders. It is an established fact that majority of people who prematurely resign from a job do so because of the leadership and seldom for other reasons.

Why do incompetent people rise to be leaders? Well, there are multi reasons for incompetency getting encouraged especially in a country like India; the main being our mindset, most of us are brought up with a fixed picture of a leader as someone who carries large number of professional degrees preferably from some foreign university (Every appointment is linked to a degree which matters more than the experience), one who is a good orator, what he speaks matters more than what he actually means (people prefer leaders who carry a charismatic persona, are good entertainers and apt at making fun of the opposition), someone who knows the art of improving production, it does not matter how he does it; profit matters more than the people. The surname a man carries at times matters more than the name he has made for himself by his actions. In some cases, the gender bias props up a less competent male to lead over a more competent lady.

At times it is the second rung leadership which prefers a weak leader on top as the perceive that it gives them more power and freedom of action forgetting the basic tenet that a good leader creates more leaders and a weak or destructive leader finally destroys the organisation.

Incompetent leadership, insensitive to the need of the people (the working hands) can never ensure a sustained growth; in the long run a union of satisfied hands will give better results than a lone arrogant and aggressive leader. A sustained growth requires a right mix of welfare, training, availability of resources and push. It is not just the professional qualification and the belief which can ensure success, experience and maturity are as much a requirement. 

Leadership is not about using people with a firm focus on increasing production/ profits but rather a leader aims to empower the subordinates, helps them realise their capabilities, makes them feel wanted which finally leads to increased output. People perform better under a competent and trustworthy leader rather than under just a professionally well qualified one irrespective of whether the leader is he or she.

Decision making has for long remained the bane of our political and professional leadership in most cases. The handling of the crisis created by the virus has exposed the leadership the world over and most performed below par rather most exhibited their incompetence at the first lockdown stage itself. Unfortunately surnames and oratory skills do not bestow decision making abilities on a person; it requires education, experience, and emotional sensitivity more than anything else to make good decisions. A gender balanced society where both men and women have equitable say in decision making will always produce better leaders.

It is high time that humility, professional competence, resource management skills and effectiveness start getting preference over mere degrees, fool hardy confidence, oratory skills, charismatic personality, family names and gender in selection of leaders.