There are three common explanations for women’s clear under-representation in management: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; and (3) women were sensitive to their male friends’ relationship status and disinterested in pursuing those who were already associated with someone else, despite the fact that guys were just as likely to want “romantic dates” with “taken” friends as they were with single ones. Our failure to distinguish between confidence and competence is the primary cause of the unequal managerial sex ratio and also the reason why so many incompetent men become leaders. That is, we (people in general) are persuaded to believe that males are better leaders than women because we mistake shows of confidence as a sign of ability.

In other words, the one advantage males have over women in terms of leadership is that displays of hubris — often disguised as charisma or charm — are frequently mistaken for leadership potential, and this occurs far more frequently in men than in women.

The common type of incompetent leadership:

Another reason why so many incompetent men become leaders is that leaderless organizations are more likely to elect self-centered, overconfident, and narcissistic persons as leaders and that these personality traits are not equally prevalent in men and women. 

In line with this, Freud proposed that the psychological process of leadership occurs when a group of people — the followers — have substituted the leader’s narcissistic tendencies for their own, resulting in their love for the leader being a disguised form of self-love or a substitute for their inability to love themselves.

Also, read, Why is women’s growth slow in STEM fields?

Why do incompetent men become leaders?

The fact is that males almost everywhere in the globe believe they are considerably wiser than women. Arrogance and overconfidence, on the other hand, are inversely connected to leadership skill — the capacity to establish and sustain high-performing teams, as well as motivate followers to put their agendas aside in order to work for the group’s common good.

Indeed, the finest leaders, whether in sports, politics, or business, are generally modest — and, whether by nature or upbringing, humility is considerably more common in women than in males. Emotional intelligence, for example, is a significant motivator of modest conduct, and women outperform males in this area. Furthermore, a quantitative study of gender differences in personality found that women are more sensitive, compassionate, and modest than males, which is perhaps one of the least counter-intuitive discoveries in the social sciences.

Also read, 9 things successful men never do

When one considers the dark side of personality, for example, our normative data, which includes thousands of managers from all industries and 40 countries, reveals that males are consistently more arrogant, manipulative, and risk-prone than women.

The paradoxical conclusion is that the same psychological traits that enable incompetent men to become leaders and executives to get to the top of the business or political ladder are also responsible for their demise. To put it another way, what it takes to obtain a job is not only distinct from but also the polar opposite of, what it takes to perform a good job. As a result, too many inept people are promoted to managerial positions, often at the expense of more qualified individuals.

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Incompetent leadership in the everyday world:

Unsurprisingly, the mythological figure of a “leader” embodies many of the traits associated with personality disorders, including narcissism, psychopathy, histrionic, and Machiavellian personalities. The tragedy isn’t that these mythological people aren’t indicative of the ordinary manager; it’s that the average manager will fail precisely because they possess these traits.

In reality, the majority of leaders, whether in politics or business, fail miserably. That has always been the case: the majority of countries, corporations, societies, and organizations are badly run, as evidenced by their lifespan, revenues, and approval ratings, as well as the impact they have on their people, workers, subordinates, and members. Excellent leadership has always been the exception rather than the rule.

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Dealing with incompetent leadership:

The last thing we should do when selecting women is reduce our standards in order to increase the quality of our leaders and assist more women to advance to positions of leadership. This means we shouldn’t expect women to act more like inept guys, such as leaning in when they don’t have the skills to back it up, or spending more time on self-promotion or furthering their own personal interests. It also means not dismissing guys because they lack the typical male characteristics that correspond to our faulty leadership models.

The majority of the character qualities that are genuinely beneficial for effective leadership are primarily found in individuals who are unable to dazzle others with their managerial abilities. This is particularly true for females. There now is convincing scientific evidence that women are more likely than males to use more successful leadership methods.

In conclusion, there is no disputing that women face several obstacles on their way to leadership roles, including a strong glass ceiling. But the absence of professional barriers for incompetent men, as well as the fact that we tend to connect leadership with the same psychological characteristics that make the typical male a worse leader than the average woman, is a far greater problem. As a result, we have a pathological system that rewards males for ineptitude while penalizing women for brilliance, to the detriment of everyone, and also why incompetent men become leaders.  

Progress, on the other hand, begins with each of us. If we wish to enhance our leaders’ competency, we must first improve our own ability to judge and pick leaders, especially when they are males.