Rosa: Yeh, this is something I feel very strongly about [laughs]
They’ve done loads of research, that basically, incompetent white men are the people who are most like to be promoted. More than competent white men, even.
Because, we have this fixed idea of what a good leader is. And it’s someone who is strong and authoritative and makes strong decisions and models that kind of behaviour.
(link to some of the research)
James: And white. And male.
Rosa: And actually it’s things like emotional intelligence, the ability to listen, the ability to nourish other people. All of those traits that make you competent.
And this discord between how people are perceived and what impact they’re actually having, means that the wrong people get promoted – all these incompetent people.
So there’s something about breaking that cycle.
James: You don’t have to look too far for good examples of this, right?
Rosa: Yeh, right. Like all the political leaders [laughs]
James: Look at the leadership of some of the bigger countries in the world at the moment, just for example. [laughs]
Rosa: [laughing] Who are the people who have been promoted to the top jobs in the world? And why have they been promoted to that job?
James: Yeh, it’s pretty staggering isn’t it. It’s so sad.
Whereas you look at the female leadership in countries and, you know I’m not studying this stuff, but it seems much more humane. Like much more considered, much more kind of community orientated, like ‘let’s not leave anyone behind’. Rather than winners and losers.
The competitive thing is a man’s thing. It’s not to say that women aren’t competitive, that’s not the point, but I think if you were to generalise a type of trait, it’s more so belonging to a man.
Rosa: Yeh, I think it’s like a masculine trait, isn’t it? Which we all have.
And I guess I’m very careful – I think it is worth saying, that it’s not necessarily men and women, because these studies were showing that if men adopt these traits – emotional intelligence and things like that – they were also losing out in terms of promotion.
But I think maybe there’s something really important in terms of, workplace and knowing yourself – in checking your assumptions about what competency looks like.
If everyone was to do that, just to go home and really reflect on when someone’s brought the best out in them and when they really enjoy working with someone, all of these things, and built up a model of what competency looks like based on their own experience and their own – what has brought value – rather than just assuming that they know already what it looks like.
I think that would be, that’s immensely valuable, when people have taken the time to do that for themselves.
James: Yeh, that feels like to me, it’s back to the bias thing. We know ourselves too well and then we use our understanding of ourselves to look out into the world and just assume that that is the way the world is. We’re looking very much through our own lenses.
I want to look this up, because there’s a book I’m reading at the moment which talks about it and I never knew, there’s actually a term for this.
It’s called the false consensus effect. So scientifically validated or verified.
So the false consensus is like ‘because that’s how it works in your own head, in your own processing’…
A brilliant example of this for me was: I was absolutely sure, absolutely sure, we would remain in the European Union, because everybody I knew, bar one person, was voting to remain. And I was shellshocked, absolutely shocked, to find on the day that that was not what we all collectively voted. That was just such a profound moment. I was like, ‘what?!’
Because it really spoke to how I had rationalised all of that. You know, I definitely voted and of course I was going to vote, but it was so locked in in my mind that I was almost like, ‘Ooof, do I need to go to the polls?’
It was going to be a landslide in my mind. And I think yeh, that’s just the whole kind of echo-chamber notion. We’ve basically surrounded ourselves with people who are quite like us.
And then we’re also surrounded by our own thoughts and our own analysis and it’s just quicker for our brain to assume – we take the models of our thinking out onto the world and think, ‘that person’s being lazy because they’re not filling the dishwasher right’, [laughs] just as an example.
Because my brain is telling me that. Because it’s very close to itself and how it operates and then it’s projecting this judgement onto the world.
So I liked the fact that that had a term.
Rosa: Yeh, and everything we’ve talked about, like ideas of what success looks like, what competency looks like, it’s all this false consensus, isn’t it?
And actually, yeh I really wanted to speak to that, because I feel like in a way, everything that is enlightenment or awakening or deep meditation practice, all it’s really doing is it’s taking away the false consensus effect and showing you reality as it really is.
And there’s this really mystical side of that, which is where you’re opening into interesting magical ways of being and aspects of reality that are completely different to how people go about their normal everyday lives.
But there’s also just like this really simple, but in a way, way more profound version of that, which is where you’re building the capacity to just show up in your life and receive people and see people for who they really are, including yourself.
So being able to, like in a work context, if a colleague is doing something that you think is wrong or is frustrating you or something like that. It’s like being able to receive the full picture of what you’re getting.
So underneath that, I guess it goes back to what we were saying about people always doing their best. If you can really receive what they’re saying – yeh on the surface they might be being stressful and difficult or something – but underneath that for some reason, it’s like a painful situation or it’s something that they really care about and they’re just trying to express it in this way.
And that for me is, in a way, way more profound because it offers the ability to actually make a difference in the world, be of service and create meaning in the world. Rather than just experiencing some mystical thing that is just yours to have.