an employee’s competence is assessed, not by disinterested observers like you and me, but by the employer or — more likely nowadays — by other employees on higher ranks of the same hierarchy. In their eyes, leadership potential is insubordination, and insubordination is incompetence.
Good followers do not become good leaders. To be sure, the good follower may win many promotions, but that does not make him a leader. Most hierarchies nowadays are so cumbered by rules and traditions, and so bound in by public laws, that even high employees do not have to lead anyone anywhere, in the sense of pointing out the direction and setting the pace. They simply follow precedents, obey regulations, and move at the head of the crowd. Such employees lead only in the sense that thecarved wooden figurehead leads the ship.
It is easy to see how, in such a milieu, the advent of a genuine leader will be feared and resented. This is called Hypercaninophobia (top-dog fear) or more correctly by advanced hierarchiologists the Hypercaninophobia Complex (fear that the underdog may become the top dog).
– The Peter Principle, by Laurence J. Peter & Raymond Hull, page 55, 2009 HarperCollins Edition, originally published in 1969 (!!!)
I’ve heard of the Peter Principle before, usually remembering it as a person is promoted to their level of incompetence and stays there. But this is the first time I’ve actually read the book The Peter Principle where Peter (with some organizational assistance from Hull) explains not only exactly what he means, but how it occurs, how to tell if you or someone else has reached their level of incompetence, and what are the characteristic signs of an organization whose hierarchy has become filled with people who have reached their level of incompetence.
IT’S AN AWESOME BOOK!!! I’ll probably write more when I finish it, but for right now — this is a great book. If you haven’t read it before, I really recommend it. And although it sounds like it would leave the reader in a completely pessimistic & cynical frame of mind, it actually is a bit heartening & encouraging.
Exclamation points added after the original publishing date because truly, the more things change the more they stay the same.