Promoted Beyond Confidence

“We have met the enemy, and he is us.” –Walt Kelley, Pogo Seth Godin, famous marketing guru, has written several books, but now he writes short thoughts on his blog. Yesterday, he wrote a corollary to the Peter principle.

The original Peter Principle made perfect sense for the industrial age: “In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to their level of incompetence.” In other words, organizations keep promoting people up the organization until the people they promote reach a job where they are now incompetent. Competence compounded until it turns into widespread incompetence. Industrial organizations are built on competence, and the Peter Principle describes their undoing. Consider a corollary, one for our times: “To be promoted beyond your level of confidence.” Too often, the person who wrecks our work is us. In every modern organization with upward mobility, good people are promoted until they get to the point where they lose their nerve.

How often it seems that organizations promote people who were good at something, but they were not good at the new job. The original Peter Principle was derived from education. A teacher is good at communicating with children and controlling a classroom. Promoted to Principal, she must now supervise and motivate teachers as well as deal with more parents. Promoted to Superintendent, she must now deal with the school board and supervise and motivate Principals. Each move up the ladder requires new skills. Maybe in churches, a pastor is good at preaching and dealing with a few committees. Then going to a bigger church, now she must deal with more committees, supervise and motivate a larger staff, do more strategic planning, and upgrade preaching skills. Today in flatter hierarchies, Godin says the problem is confidence. He may have something. We get into something that we are no longer confident of handling. “How did I get into this,” becomes the question of the hour—or minute. It may be mostly the same skills, just on a different level. Leaders lacking in confidence may wind up micromanaging. Or they may withdraw. Either way, they become ineffective leaders. How do we gain confidence?

  • Seek out mentors
  • Study
  • Get over needing to be “the smartest person in the room”
  • Celebrate small accomplishments—both personally and with the team

Tags: , ,

One Response to “Promoted Beyond Confidence”

  1. rennydiokno2015 Says:

    Reblogged this on

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: