How Stupid People Get Promoted

warning-no-stupid-people_i-G-60-6056-AB9D100ZInteresting title don’t you think? We all know who I’m talking about, the person who “somehow” got the position that we deserved. Maybe it’s somebody who has a little “authority” for the first time and immediately begins acting as if they rule the world.

These people are frustrating for all of us smart people who have earned every promotion or raise we every received.

I’ll admit that at times I’m frustrated by “those” people too. Then I remember that truly smart people don’t let things, or people, not within their control frustrate them.

I remember something else too; there really are no stupid people. There are people who look differently than me. There are people who talk differently than me. There are people who think differently than me. There are people who disagree with me and there are people who are just plain different than me.

None of those differences make them stupid. I’m wrong when I think they do.

Authentic leaders understand that different people bring different strengths to the team. They know that if everyone thinks and acts the same the success of the team can be limited.

Authentic leaders put people in their strength zones, making it possible to use the difference to benefit everyone.

The next time you’re tempted to think of someone as stupid remember that it’s far more likely they are simply different. As a leader it’s your job to figure out how that difference “fits” within the organization. It’s your job to use that difference to it’s advantage and ensure that the difference is valued by other members of the team.

Leaders who fail to find the value of diversity in their organizations had better be careful,  someone may just think they are stupid.


11 thoughts on “How Stupid People Get Promoted

  1. I like your positive viewpoint. I have one question though: what if someone is promoted due to their strengths and as soon as they are, they start acting differently? The person became combative, insulting and moody. Now as a subordinate I have to cope with the fall out. I don’t think they are stupid, I just think the position might be inappropriate for them.

    1. You could very well be right. The stress associated with the change (even good change can be stressful) or the challenge of new responsibilities is hard for some people to handle.

      Even if you now work for this person you still have the ability to “lead” them. It is very possible they may not realize how they have changed. A simple question to them make help them see it.

      I’d ask, “did you realize “you’re a different you” since your promotion? Is that on purpose or did it just kinda happen?

      Okay, so that’s two questions but you get my point. The other option of course is to just suffer through it while they grow into the role.

      As always, we have choices. 🙂

  2. Thanks, that is truly helpful. I will consider my choices and see how I can help them grow into the position.

  3. Fanatstic piece. Always love your tweets about leadership. I have a boss who is never satisfied. No matter whatt you do. She gives you an assignment to carry out and expects it the next minute. Of course the assignment is laden with a lot of mistakes and that is d beginning of another round of bashing and shouting. How do I handle her?

    1. Sounds like you have an opportunity to lead up. 🙂

      As I accepted assignments I would ask for some clear measurable objectives and checkpoints along the way so you can course correct along the way if need be.

      This could actually help “the boss” to think through the assignments to make them more productive and increase the odds of success.

      Just remember, ask for these objectives in a way that shows your only interest is in doing a better job.

      1. Oh well, thank you. Will follow your advice and hope for a better working relationship with my boss.

  4. Leaders who fail to find the value of diversity in their organizations also tend to not see the diversity in their customers, resulting in either a one size fits all or very narrow minded approach to their products or services. I work in an industry (energy efficiency) where it’s assumed every employee has the same political, social and economic motivations as everyone else. If you deviate in any way from the “accepted” way of thinking, you’re seen as mentally and morally deficient. This translates into how customers are perceived as well. Only people who are “smart” enough to think the same way as a company does are viewed as viable customers. Anyone else, even though they may have the money to spend and are motivated to buy, are viewed as too dumb to benefit from what the company has to offer and are never pursued.

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