The Pathway to Incompetence – an unfortunate tale of Management

The Pathway to Incompetence – an unfortunate tale of Management

Management training and skill development is a priority for newly appointed Managers

The right stuff

If I were to describe myself in three words, I would say “caring, intelligent, fair”, qualities I believe, that are important to be a successful Manager. As a proficient, possibly even outstanding technician in my chosen vocation, I was identified as a candidate for promotion and eventually my opportunity arrived. A car and accompanying car park privileges, a nice pay rise and a set of shiny keys established in me a mandate of the Manager – to get things done “the right way”.

Management is more than commitment to the cause

Over a period of six years, I did, with those three traits (care, intelligence and fairness) commit myself fully to the tasks and people I oversaw. I can, hand on heart, say that I had the best interests of my staff at the forefront of (most) decisions and actions I was responsible for. No doubt. I can just as easily declare my time in the role as a rollercoaster of uncertainty and unfortunately, one of limited success. I made some horrible mistakes; mistakes I still ponder (now that I know and understand the reasons they were so bad). For sure I had the deck stacked against me when I naively signed my new contract; a culture of underperformance in a highly competitive, possibly even inviable contract. Yet still I now understand clearly that I did myself, my staff and my organisation no favours and for that I suffered great personal anguish, cost several people their jobs and left a major hole in budgets over the duration. The resounding point of this open and honest evaluation of my performance is that I do not feel guilt and I absolutely do not blame myself or, more profoundly, question my capacity to become an exceptional Manager and Leader in the future.

Management requires a unique skill set

In 2011, after making a difficult, yet responsible decision to walk away from the role of Senior Manager (yes, I did continue to be promoted higher…), I came across the teachings of Robert Re through a mutual friend I had met whilst volunteering in Cambodia. Robert, one of Australia’s most experienced Organisational Culture experts, invited me to participate in his ‘yardstick’ program, Leadership At Work. Thankfully I made the important decision to take up his offer. It was an investment of a few thousand dollars and eight days of my life that absolutely transformed my thinking about the past, present and future.
The single most important message that embedded in my brain was this:


Management skills are learned, not inherited

As a technician, I had spent several years of training, gained extensive qualifications and on-the-job mentoring in preparation to excel in my job. Yet, at that very moment that I signed my new contract with the word “Manager” printed in bold across the top, I was spontaneously promoted to incompetence. I simply had no training, no foundation, no experience whatsoever in the areas of Human Resources, Industrial Relations, Performance Management, etc…. the list goes on. It was a clear recipe for disaster. The recipe proved right.

The spectrum of Social Sciences, which Leadership and Management sit within (perhaps a new concept, but truly an accurate one), can be highly fluid, unimaginably complex and terribly sophisticated. Traditionally, professionals working in this sector can commit to 5 years minimum tertiary education before they spend a day as qualified practitioners. As guardians of companies, CEO’s, Human Resources Managers and Recruiters should pay respect to this fact when making appointments to any Managerial or Leadership role.

Technical proficiency (and excellence), high intellect or IQ, commitment and determination in themselves are not enough to guarantee successful transition from technician to Manager / Leader. They certainly can help but the critical key to unlocking high performance is having the right skills; the right tools for the trade.

an invitation to find a safe place to start your management journey



Knowing that I now have those tools, that they are sharp and ready to go to work, I’m very keen to share them, I want to see your people promoted to new levels of competence and success.


I invite you to visit our website and explore how  we can help you create competence and excellence within your Leadership and Management teams.

Brad Clarke

Brad Clarke

"In order to create a better future, you must know a better future exists"
Brad Clarke

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