14 votes

Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? And what can we do about it?

19 comments

  1. [10]
    acdw
    Link
    I like how the author breaks down the gender divide into competence vs. confidence. There's some decent stuff in here, if it's a little one-note. It makes me think, again, of Adams:

    I like how the author breaks down the gender divide into competence vs. confidence. There's some decent stuff in here, if it's a little one-note. It makes me think, again, of Adams:

    The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
    To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
    To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

    10 votes
    1. [8]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      This idiom is wrong. There have been numerous successful, relatively "good" Presidents, Prime Ministers, etc who sought out the position. Not even the fabled Cincinnatus, literally a symbol of...

      anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.

      This idiom is wrong. There have been numerous successful, relatively "good" Presidents, Prime Ministers, etc who sought out the position. Not even the fabled Cincinnatus, literally a symbol of Roman virtus, was without desire to rule at one point in his life. There is no known system in which we can decide upon a capable leader from amongst those who do not seek the position.

      Competence and confidence must go hand in hand at that level. We need confident leaders because when the chips are down and there is no longer time for debate someone needs to make the decision. An example that immediately comes to mind is that of James Madison, one of the foremost genius' amongst the Founding Fathers, and one of the primary authors of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and The Federalist Papers, amongst other political and philosophical works. He was possibly the greatest mind of his time. He was also the President who initiated and presided over the War of 1812, and who's doddering and diffidence resulted in the various catastrophes during the first half of that war, culminating in the sacking of Washington.

      The issue at hand, and the one most affecting women in leadership, is certain people's inability to distinguish confidence from ego or braggadocio. This is exactly what the linked article is talking about but with slightly different (incorrect?) terminology. Confidence is a benefit for a competent leader, and most successful women have it. Egotism, or what the article is referring to as "Confidence", while not limited to men, certainly seems to get a pass more than it does in women. Likewise certain types instinctually look down upon confident women.

      I believe the article makes a fundamentally correct point but where its going wrong is equating confidence with a lack of integrity and confidence. Even humility can go hand in hand with confidence in some self-aware people (see the Socratic paradox). Bad leaders are narcissistic, egotistical, and braggarts, but that doesn't mean they are necessarily confident, and that doesn't mean confidence alone is a bad trait.

      13 votes
      1. acdw
        Link Parent
        You know, you're absolutely right. Adams (Douglas Adams, maybe I should've been clearer) was satirizing the whole idea of leadership in that quote, but you're right that the article mislabels...

        You know, you're absolutely right. Adams (Douglas Adams, maybe I should've been clearer) was satirizing the whole idea of leadership in that quote, but you're right that the article mislabels "egotism" as "confidence."

        Obama is another example of president who lacked confidence. He was smart, and charismatic, but I think he wavered against the partisanship of Congress.

        4 votes
      2. [6]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        A thought experiment: A country-wide mandatory personality testing of all eligible adults every... let's say three terms? Helps the state account for immigrants and newly-adult citizens without...

        There is no known system in which we can decide upon a capable leader from amongst those who do not seek the position.

        A thought experiment:

        A country-wide mandatory personality testing of all eligible adults every... let's say three terms? Helps the state account for immigrants and newly-adult citizens without being too annoying due to frequency of testing.

        This can even be included in the census count. I dunno how it's done elsewhere, but in Russia, volunteers all around the country visit every single person they can reach and take their data. Giving the counted person a personality test to fill in and submit at a later date could be incorporated into that sort of a process.

        How does the state implore the person to serve? The governing equivalent of jury duty, written into the constitution. Give very good reason to stay away from the position, or face prosecution on refusal.

        Anyone wanna create a pocket universe and test that out?

        2 votes
        1. acdw
          Link Parent
          I have heard of proposals to make a leadership lottery, basically what you suggest but for a larger group of leaders. I think it'd be really interesting. BUT one major problem could be that...

          I have heard of proposals to make a leadership lottery, basically what you suggest but for a larger group of leaders. I think it'd be really interesting.

          BUT one major problem could be that lobbies would have outsize power, since everyone with actual power wouldn't really know what they were doing, so they'd need advisors, and the system would be easy to game.

          4 votes
        2. [4]
          Eylrid
          Link Parent
          The thing you have to be careful of there is bias in the testing. Southern US states used to administer literacy tests to determine eligibility to vote. They gave easy questions to white voters...

          The thing you have to be careful of there is bias in the testing. Southern US states used to administer literacy tests to determine eligibility to vote. They gave easy questions to white voters and much harder questions to black voters to keep them from voting. Depending on how the personality test is set up it could skew things in favor of certain classes or ethnic groups.

          3 votes
          1. [3]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            Keep mindful of the fact that this is a thought experiment. I don't expect anything to come out of it. What I had in mind is one test for everyone. Assuming a certain level of country-wide...

            Keep mindful of the fact that this is a thought experiment. I don't expect anything to come out of it.

            What I had in mind is one test for everyone. Assuming a certain level of country-wide literacy, this shouldn't be an issue. Same questions, in all major languages of the country (that one is up for debate; I dunno how things are done in countries where there are multiple national languages), checked for errors in phrasing and translation by independent experts.

            What you mentioned is called "racism". That wasn't part of the plan.

            1. [2]
              moocow1452
              Link Parent
              That would be difficult, as even without explicit bias when constructing a test, there are still biases. One person might understand a question in a different way than someone else, and if the...

              That would be difficult, as even without explicit bias when constructing a test, there are still biases. One person might understand a question in a different way than someone else, and if the SATs run into this year after year, then it can happen to literally anything.

              3 votes
              1. ThatFanficGuy
                Link Parent
                The SATs also change yearly, right? Personality tests needn't, once they'd been codified. I'm sure a bunch of MDs can work out a syntactic construction that most, if not all, people understand as...

                The SATs also change yearly, right? Personality tests needn't, once they'd been codified. I'm sure a bunch of MDs can work out a syntactic construction that most, if not all, people understand as intended.

                And sure, there is probably bias embedded into many modern personality tests. We're just gonna have to work with that and strive to do better, I suppose.

    2. stephen
      Link Parent
      Ay there's the rub. Hierarchy is designed to fail.

      Ay there's the rub. Hierarchy is designed to fail.

      1 vote
  2. mrbig
    Link

    Expecting others to be reasonable is a path that will only lead to sorrow — @mrbig

    5 votes
  3. [8]
    NoblePath
    Link
    There’s an old adage: she has to be a preacher or a politician, because she can’t do anything else.

    There’s an old adage: she has to be a preacher or a politician, because she can’t do anything else.

    1. [7]
      NaraVara
      Link Parent
      How old can the saying be if "she" is allowed to be anything but barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?

      How old can the saying be if "she" is allowed to be anything but barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen?

      1. [5]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        If one is to believe Google, the adage is five hours old – that is, the age of the parent comment.

        If one is to believe Google, the adage is five hours old – that is, the age of the parent comment.

        4 votes
        1. [3]
          vivaria
          Link Parent
          I mean, once you get to strings of that length, the odds you can exact match shoot down dramatically. :V Though I couldn't find anything else either, even with Google's fuzzy searching tools.

          I mean, once you get to strings of that length, the odds you can exact match shoot down dramatically. :V

          Though I couldn't find anything else either, even with Google's fuzzy searching tools.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            I searched the phrase, no quote-marks, using StartPage first. The best it gave me was about the UK's current political clusterfuck and/or Theresa May. Google no-quotes just gives me Trump. Just...

            I searched the phrase, no quote-marks, using StartPage first. The best it gave me was about the UK's current political clusterfuck and/or Theresa May.

            Google no-quotes just gives me Trump.

            Just being thorough in my reporting.

            2 votes
            1. vivaria
              Link Parent
              I tried to use ~ (appropriate for this site!) for some of the terms and subphrases but all it got me was a fan translation of the Polish Witcher RPG, lol! :V

              I tried to use ~ (appropriate for this site!) for some of the terms and subphrases but all it got me was a fan translation of the Polish Witcher RPG, lol! :V

              2 votes
        2. NoblePath
          Link Parent
          That’s interesting. Like i said below, i changed he to she for effect, but the adage is at least as old as i am (born in 70’s). It may be geographically limited, but i doubt it.

          That’s interesting. Like i said below, i changed he to she for effect, but the adage is at least as old as i am (born in 70’s). It may be geographically limited, but i doubt it.

          1 vote
      2. NoblePath
        Link Parent
        I adapted it for both modernity and contrarianism.

        I adapted it for both modernity and contrarianism.

        2 votes