Leadership – Talent Management – And the Myth of the Peter Principle

Has it become apparent to anyone else that with the evolution of our busy business lifestyles and lack of work/life balance that there is a severe shortage of volunteers for roles on Boards of community groups and organisations?

Community groups require professional and competent volunteers to see their organisation progress. With the litigious nature of the society we live in, the obligation on community groups to be fully competent and compliant is abundant. The mandates of Philanthropist’s, Patrons and grant donors on a not-for-profit organisation are now so arduous that the organisation is completely overlooked for funding, if they do not have professionally prepared business plans, sufficient policies and procedures, relevant and workable strategic plans, exit strategies, full insurance, and deductible gift recipient tax status. The burden for wide-ranging corporate planning and comprehensive governance are omnipresent, now more than ever, rightly or wrongly, whether we agree with it or not, like it or not

We now have community The Pareto Principle Meets the Peter Principle groups and organisations that have the greatest difficulty attracting anyone for their Board positions, let alone receive a nomination for someone who is suitably qualified or enthusiastic for the role and passionate about the cause. Fiscally viable, not-for-profit groups have the luxury of being able to employ proficient and experienced CEO’s who are charged with managing corporate planning and governance, and not unlike a captain, safely guiding their organisations ship through the harbour. Other, less financial, community groups roll and list through rough waters, constantly changing captains, lacking any sort of directional compass and over emphasise the dependence on insurance to protect them in case of an emergency. These groups will inevitably be shipwrecked as the statutory obligations towards them are too great to allow for the ineptitude of its often well-meaning but incompetent leaders.

There is a principal called the Peter Principle. Dr Laurence J. Peter is a former professor who published a book based around his theory that “In a hierarchy, every worker tends to rise to his level of incompetence,” and that “In time, every post tends to be occupied by a worker who is incompetent to carry out his duties. That people in a hierarchal organisation are often placed in positions way beyond their level of ability. Organisations with poor leadership cannot handle change or disruption to their hierarchical structure, and the first commandment of hierarchical life with incompetent leadership is that the hierarchy must be preserved at all costs.”