There always seems to be someone incompetent nearby: on the board, in the group, in the company, or in life. Sometimes oneself is incompetent, but the problem appears when it is recurrent and becomes chronic. Organizations move forward despite mediocre, closed, politicized, and / or bad people.

We have all faced people like this, and we cannot explain what they do in the company, how it is that they continue to rise in the position and worse, how they lead it. Several studies confirm that the majority of the incompetent simply don't know. And if they did, they probably wouldn't be anymore. Incompetent people tend to think about their high ability, much more than competent people. If you have doubts about your competence and abilities, chances are you are. If you are sure that you are the best - or very close to it - you are probably incompetent and not even aware.

A certain degree of doubt is healthy because it invites to struggle, to foresight, to study, and to work more than the one who suffers from an overvaluation. Furthermore, self-confidence is not a permanent state: it is dynamic and varies according to the personality, experience and context that is faced.

It is appropriate to remember Johari. Its famous "windows" tell us that people have four levels of consciousness about ourselves:

  1. The public part.- is the one that I know about me, and they (the rest of the people) also know about me.
  2. The private part.- the one that I know about me, and they don't. It is where we keep secrets and personal thoughts.
  3. The blind part.- the one that I don't know about me, and they do. This is where most of the incompetent would come in, and for that matter, many of the blind spots where we have problems and that everyone sees except us.
  4. The hidden part.- the one that I don't know about me, nor they know about me. It is the one Freud and other personality studies coined as the subconscious.
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If those who qualify as incompetent were given feedback, according to Frank M. Shipper, a professor at the Perdue School of Business in Maryland, one in six employees or managers would refuse to believe it. And this self-deception can be expensive.

And the Peter principle? 

The one that affirms that humans are promoted to different jobs for doing our job well, just at the level where we can no longer do it well. Could it be that we all start out being competent at something, until promotions - in the organization or in business - take us to a level that exceeds us and we fall into incompetence? The paradox is that in organizations, even those who have already reached their level of incompetence, can continue to rise because they know and move well in the middle of the "grid" (politics).

A Mexican executive complained bitterly that her boss could not read body language, not within the company and even less with clients. He committed the most decontextualized acts in the world, spoke when he had to be silent or vice versa. Even when he was negotiating a payment term with a supplier, he offered to give him more and replied by saying “no thanks, I don't need that long”.

The good thing was that he got rid of it because he was promoted. And they promoted him because his boss got along very well with his own boss. As if the summation of the entire existence of corporate life was getting his boss to appreciate him. When the results presentations arrived, this subject would put his entire area to work on the most sacred thing: the presentation.

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Depending on the case, the group could spend two, three, seven, or twenty days and nights without stopping. All the people in the area resented these showtime drills and the burnout was enormous. Everything for an hour of presentation. And the people downstairs, the ones who actually did the work, resented the guy hanging his medals. People at the top can often be fooled, but the people below are seldom fooled. Her only talent, according to her employee, was introductions, but with this she had. The most interesting thing is that this person seemed to be blind to his incompetence, his bad strategic Already the silly comments.

There is also the variable of the validity of the leadership. Leaders, like everything, have their times. A good leader in a specific context may be just what the company requires, but changing the context stops being competent.

One of the biggest confusions in history is when Churchill, the last European stronghold repelling the Nazis, with his determination and clarity of mind managed - teaming up with the Americans - to orchestrate the German defeat; but when peace came, the English people seemed to dismiss him from public life.

At no time is Churchill's disability suggested, but rather highlights the validity to which a leader is exposed, and could give the appearance of anachronistic.

Regarding the former Mexican presidents, they generally come off poorly (like the country): they go from heroes to villains, from competent to incompetent, from graceful to unfortunate. Sometimes the trials are without foundation, but who can against the vox populi?

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Although by definition public exercise cannot please everyone, management The current government has been questioned at times. Time, as always, will end up writing history.

And in your company, is there blind incompetence? Eventually everything will come out, the question is at what cost.

Contributed by: Horacio Marchand 

I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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