On the heels of worrying about prioritization by what’s urgent rather than important, an article in Management-Issues reminds me that we also have to worry about prioritization based on who yells the loudest. The article quotes a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology that showed that the most outspoken people were judged as possessing higher levels of general intelligence, regardless of their actual abilities.
“Dominant people were so confident in their competence, even though they were no more competent than anyone else.”
Said another way, talented people exhibited more confidence in their opinions but having a strong opinion did not correlate to increased ability. Given constantly evolving business conditions, true competence can be tricky to measure. As a result, organizations tend to rely on confidence as a proxy for competence when considering promotions.
Thus, the potential vicious circle: Those leaders who tend to yell the loudest are most likely to have higher priority associated with their projects which leads to a higher percentage of successful initiatives which suggest greater competence which reinforces the self-confident behavior. Yelling leads to more yelling.
Perhaps the meek will not inherit the corporation but I’m convinced that employees prefer leaders who share knowledge about desired outcomes and delegate responsibility based on clear priorities. And better motivated employees are the secret to all performance improvement initiatives.
Management by yelling is not sustainable.