Charisma with shadow

The first impression is deceptive: if good appearance is mistaken for leadership competence. How we systematically hire and promote the wrong people and thus harm companies: Damage to crops in the culture. A book recommendation for the summer holidays: “why do so many incompetent men become leaders”.

“Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? (And how to fix it)” with this book title provokes the author Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, who is both scientist and top manager. Before we end up in the gender debate with MACH1, we turn to the facts: in his book, Chamorro-Premuzic shows how we systematically make bad personnel decisions in a pointed and well-founded way. We are often mistaken, although we believe that our HR processes promote only the best and most qualified. He deduces how we give preference to self-promoters, dazzlers, narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths over modest, socially competent, leadership-oriented people. All of us. Male and female on both sides. A key word is “charisma”.

An all too self-confident, impressive appearance in documents, interviews and assessments is equated with leadership competence. And then we are in a fine mess: a toxic person poisons the climate. 4 to 20% of top executives are considered harmful, about half of them hardly create any added value, they cultivate egocentrism behind highly polished masks. It is a worldwide phenomenon. Only 1% of the total population would be socially intolerable.

What needs to be done?

The rule of thumb is: dismissal even without Plan B, because socially-toxic people are considered difficult to treat. The author explains that removing a destroyer from a management team is a four times more effective measure for corporate success than hiring a good top manager.

But how can we tell which of the “janitors” on the executive floor has dangerous downsides? At the heart of these mistakes are today’s recruitment, compensation and promotion systems, which give less weight to social integrity in assessments than to potentially harmful behaviour. Gerhard Fehr, FehrAdvice’s Zurich expert on behavioural economics, gives a hint:

“If the turnover rate of women in management positions is significantly higher than that of men and their share is low, then the company has a problem with the corporate culture. It is an early indicator that innovation and success are at risk.”

Who is surprised? According to Chamorro, women in management are three times less affected by the Destroyer Syndrome and their good integration is an indicator of a healthy culture. And socially responsible male colleagues – the majority of men – also benefit from this. Note: This is not a gender issue, but a question of the social integrity of people and how we give them more weight.

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