6 Actions So You Don’t ‘Rise To Your Level Of Incompetence’.

You likely have heard of the concept called the Peter Principle: ‘People get promoted one level above the competencies and capabilities’; or, ‘managers rise to the level of their incompetence.’

The Peter Principle is a management concept that proposes that the selection of a candidate for any position is based on their current role & performance rather than their abilities to perform in the intended role. Thus, employees only stop being promoted once they can no longer perform effectively.

Nice Eh!

Promoted and feel good about yourself;

Promoted and feel good about yourself;

Promoted and feel good about yourself;

Promoted and then FAIL!!

I am coaching a brilliant and intelligent person who has recently been promoted to a program manager with four coordinators as direct reports. She has just realized that she is the ham in the sandwich squished between senior managers and her direct reports.

She came to me after hearing my keynote where I described a soup-sandwich and she does not want her career ending up like two pieces of bread soaked in soup. Her promotion has landed her squarely in the middle of competing for business priorities, interests and influence & power. She feels the constant squeeze of pressure from above and below. She has to influence peers, build partnerships and survive small ‘p’ politics every day.

She is perfectly fine being the ham in the sandwich, but she has no intention of turning her career into a soup sandwich.

What the heck is a soup sandwich

How did I help her adjust and set her up to thrive in her new role? I gave her these 6 tools:

1. Slow Down & Think: Organise your day, so you have time to observe what is happening around you. Look for the big picture, patterns in relationships and the trade-offs that people are making to get their work done. These are the reality of the complexities of organizations.  Develop an understanding and empathy for others — but let their busy work get in your way and allow you to lose focus.”

Click here to read how Attila the Hun says Thank You

2. Life is hard, Learn to manage It:  Handling stress, uncertainty and setbacks are part of your work life, and you need to maintain grace & balance while under pressure. If you can’t find balance, these pressures will go home with you and directly impact your home and family life.

3. Don’t Communicate, Listen & Talk: Communication is a core competency, and you will be required to express ideas to a wide range of audiences. But never forget that effective communication is also about listening, asking questions, and aligning words and actions.

Click Here to Read about Walking the Talk

4. Influence: No manager is an island, and even Tsars and dictators need cooperation to get things done. In today’s matrixed organizations, position or expertise alone isn’t enough. It is important to develop styles to help you get different people with different perspectives on board.

Click here to read more about the Big Bang Theory and Leading

5. Keep Learning: Seeking opportunities to learn and learn quickly. To be good at anything requires some knowledge, skills, and technical know-how. I have become a HUGE proponent of Podcasts and Webinars so I can learn while walking the dog & driving.


6. Be Self-Aware: It is important that you understand your style and strengths. But it is vital to fully understand your weaknesses & shortcomings because these will inevitably prevent you from navigating you’re within your organization.