“INCOMPETENCE”…at the helm

Can I ask a question…why do we have so many people in positions of leadership INCOMPETENT?? Not too in the distant past we had the BP oil spill where we found that there was a profound presence of incompetence almost from top to bottom, and now we have the unfortunate occurrence with the vacation cruise ship (Costa Concordia).  The story continues to trickle in to us that the Captain of the cruise ship not only demonstrated a lack of leadership but also was so incompetent during the crisis with the cruise ship that he could be accused of manslaughter. “How” and “Why” do these people get placed in such critical responsible roles? It’s to the point now that we as patrons of airlines, cruise ships, trains, Taxi’s (yes, Taxi’s …we place of lives in these peoples hands as well) should require a resume, proof of references, track record experiences, notary public and any other official documentation that proves the carrier’s “COMPETENCE”.

Now, let me humbly admit I’m not an expert at handling crisis although I have been in many business types crisis in my career and I can tell you honestly I won some…lost some. However, c’mon roles that are responsible for millions of lives (i.e. pilots, physicians, captains of cruise ships, train conductors etc) the percentages of “COMPETENT” success should be relatively high. So, I come back to my original point/question how do some people get into these roles that they are clearly incapable of succeeding in…. and dangerously potentially harming innocent lives with their incompetency. Dealing with crisis at any level takes a well-trained competent person and if you are going to be at a leadership level then your competency has to be at a higher level. In a previous article I’ve written I stated there are specific steps one can take when in the midst of a crisis, they are highlighted below:

  • Don’t overreact even if the situation is severe our worst decisions on conflicts happen when the mind doesn’t have time to unscramble…seems simple but many do not heed.
  • What does the “Vision/Credo” tell you? I’m amazed at how many decisions are made on issues without the inclusion of the company’s vision or credo…why do you have a vision or credo if you don’t let it lead your way.
  • Determine what’s best for the “PEOPLE” then the business, and many decisions are made on emotion which is part of our human DNA, however separating emotion from practicality/common sense can lead to the best available plan towards the crisis.
  • REPEAT: Place people first! Your business decisions have to be in the best interest of your people or the people.
  • Ask for help!!!! This is the most controversial because many leaders have placed themselves on the step of “Hubris” where their decision and their decision only is golden because of their position…I submit that “Humility” is the strongest form of Leadership because it helps to empower others. Ask for help!!!

We really need to step back and examine the “COMPETENCY” of people before placing them in critical positions of leadership, I’m convinced if we do this chances of catastrophes happening that are “Human Controlled” will quickly dissipate. I’m imploring to everyone reading this blog to make this the year of “COMPETENCY”.


By Andre’ Harrell (CEO AH2 & Beyond…)





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