Popping The Peter Principle.

Peter Principle

You know what the Peter Principle is. The presupposition, which, I suppose, is at least based on some measure of observation, that in a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence. Since people as a whole tend to fall back on the “tried and tested”, managers would tend to promote people who are performing well in their current positions, often with scant regard to whether the person being promoted would be able to perform well in that position in the first place. A fantastic chef might not be the best person for running a restaurant. A decathlon champion is not necessarily the first choice for Chairman of the Sports Council. Nor is an ace fighter pilot the best choice for Chief of Air Force. We need to get it into our thick skulls that we don’t have to be the rock star. However, we DO need to find roles that we will excel in, and grow along the corridors that best allow for this growth. How else would we live genuinely fulfilling lives?

We need to pop the Peter Principle simply because when something is repeated many times over, it becomes truth in the minds of the recipients. The Peter Principle uses the very important word “tend“. That means people do NOT need to rise to their levels of incompetence. They can be promoted into a space of personal and professional growth, fill that space very well indeed, and then be promoted again to the next larger space, and so on.

For that to happen, the hierarchy’s structure, its composition, its people development philosophy, and above all, its leadership, need to be outstanding in a world where such attributes tend toward the mediocre.

So, go ahead, pop the Peter Principle, by all means. No need to ask the originator for permission. He’ll be glad to have it popped, I trow!

Skip to toolbar