Note: I think I am spending too much time with VERY smart people (not that I am complaining) but everyone I meet has so much to share, that, really typing stuff has become a limitation for me. The credit for the idea for this post goes to Bill Wiles again.
It almost a cliche now when people say that people are promoted to their level of incompetence. A great sales person is made a sales manager and boom – he fails miserably. A technical wizard is made a project manager and boom – another failure. A star in one role within a company may be a hopeless failure in another role. So why is it hard to refuse a promotion that might push you to your level of incompetence? The world around you (your friends, family members and even colleagues sometimes) may not think that you are not making progress if there is no upward movement in your career. If so many people around you are thinking that you should move up, it may be tempting to think that – that may be the right thing to do.
It requires enormous self-discipline and courage to let go of something that the world thinks is right for you. The fact is the world does not fully know you. They don’t know that you may not enjoy in the new role. You are the only person that can really make that determination.
Now, go ahead and refuse that promotion if it does not make sense.
This can happen not only to individuals but also for companies. Some companies may grow to their level of incompetence and die. Bo Burlingham of Inc. magazine has written a fascinating book called “Small Giants: Companies that choose to be great instead of big” featuring a set of companies that have escaped this trap. I am also proud of the fact that one of the featured companmies is my friend Bill Butler’s company W.L.Butler, a highly respected construction company in the Bay Area.