Four Tell-Tale Traits of Incompetence
Are you part of a project team that is likely to go belly-up? Adding insult to injury, does the stink of failure seem to cling to anything the project manager touches? If possible, avoid team assignments that put you under the leadership of supervisors with four disastrous personality traits.
1. Disorganization. Does the project manager arrive habitually late and frequently forget to bring crucial materials to project discussions? Do team members have to resubmit items because first drafts got lost or misplaced? Personal organization is a must for a successful project outcome and should be considered one of the top project leadership requirements.
Team members who work for a disorganized team lead frequently find that they are held responsible for mistakes and missed deadlines. The result is a professional black eye that might just cost them the promotion they have worked for. Sure, plenty of team members try to make up for the leader’s lack of organization, but this does little to benefit them and only keeps the incompetent supervisor in the position of leadership.
2. Sexism. This can go both ways, and it is equally a problem with a "boy's club" not wanting female influence, as there is with a female supervisor refusing to work with a qualified male team member.
3. Racism. Whether it is affirmative action hiring or simply the natural racial segmentation of the workplace based on location, the group in the minority can feel repressed. The majority group may be clueless to these feelings. A project manager who represents a racial minority -- based on numbers in the workplace, not governmental identification of national minority groups -- can easily feel threatened by the "others." A leader’s distrust quickly alters the way she or he treats team members, which generates feelings of rejection in team members. Although not specifically discussing racial tensions, the authors of “Project Leadership" identity this type of behavior as “using ‘power over’ rather than ‘power with’" team members.
4. Cronyism. Placing friends or like-minded professionals at the head of a leadership team is a dangerous proposition. Not only does it lead to discontent among peers who are excluded from a perceived inner circle, but it also leads to incompetent workers being placed into positions for which they lack aptitude. Resentment within the team results in disunity; peers outside of the inner circle protect personal achievements to prevent cronies from receiving credit.
On the flip side, due to the influence the cronies exercise with the project managers, even good ideas by others may be discounted to implement less workable solutions. A Santa Clara University discussion on ethics highlights this possibility. While the entire project or team may sink, the project manager usually protects the cronies against consequences. Cronyism can give way to extremely poor treatment of peers; cronies understand their protected status and do not worry about soft skills. Lashing out at team members, lying, cheating and even avoiding assigned work by dumping it on peers are common.