Success, Effectiveness, and the Peter Principle

Daniel Goleman, in his many books about Emotional Intelligence, makes it clear that we need both self-management and relationship management skills in order to be successful leaders. Goleman’s premise is that the emotional intelligence competencies are required for our success, and lets us decide how we define success. He assumes that effectiveness is a big part of that success.

A 1984 study cited by Seth Spain of Binghamton University gives a quick and dirty differentiation: Effective managers get things done, and successful managers get promoted. Effective managers communicate well, and manage their teams well in order to accomplish the goals of their department or organization. Successful managers network well and engage in office politics, and we often see that they totally embody the Peter Principle—being promoted to the level of their incompetence….

You may even know some of these people from your workplace. They presented themselves well enough to be hired, they talk a good game, and they don’t seem to produce the results required of them. They often stay because the hiring manager is afraid to be seen as having been wrong about the choice s/he made!

According to the research, only 10% of managers can do all four of those activities–communicate, manage, network, and engage in office politics–well enough to be both effective and successful!

Which of these are among your strengths? Which would be worthwhile for you to improve? Do you consider yourself to be effective? Successful? Both? And, how would your colleagues characterize you? Do you know? Really know?

You could learn how others perceive you by participating in a 360 feedback experience! Click here for an example of an outstanding 360 feedback tool and sample report published by John Wiley & Sons.