Based on my observations as an HR professional, I believe it comes down to two simple truths.
1. Inept leaders tend to have low social awareness and low self-awareness.
2. Corporate culture in America continues to reward and promote individuals based on their technical competencies versus their leadership competencies. Therefore, these individuals find no compelling reason to change or improve. They simply subscribe to the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Early on in my career, I tried to convince these leaders that something was broken, and I urged them to fix it. I even tried to change the system that rewarded the wrong behaviors and promoted the wrong individuals.
I failed miserably.
But my failures helped me to better understand the type of leaders I want to work with and the company cultures that foster the right behaviors. I also developed the ability (and the courage) to ask the right questions of prospective employers. Most importantly, I do my homework to find examples of how those employers live out their values.
In the end, I learned that I can’t change individuals who are not motivated to change. Additionally, I can’t change deeply entrenched corporate cultures that encourage the wrong behaviors.
But I can be relentless in my pursuit of finding an organization that follows Robert P. Neushel’s advice in “The Servant Leader” that the “fundamental traits of personality and depth of character are more vital than intelligence in a leader.”
This article originally appeared on Medium.
Paula Fox is a human resources professional with 20+ years of leadership experience. She’s a BGS member and a creative writer with a passion for leadership and a desire to make the world a better place.