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Graci Leadership Solutions Blog

  • Writer's pictureGraci Leadership

Weaponized Incompetence

Ever pretend to be bad at a household task so you don't have to do it? Personally, I dislike folding colored clothes. On occasion, I will purposely fold shirts incorrectly. My wife, Lori, will predictably just jump in and say, "I will do it!" On occasions, my wife will not demonstrate the same diligence I exercise when mowing the lawn in straight rows. What do I do? Jump in and finish the job. Both situations are known as weaponized incompetence. It happens all the time in the workplace. Here are a few examples:

  • A team member will purposely make mistakes when doing a task in hopes the leader will do it.

  • A team member will take too long to do a task, in hopes the leader will do it.

  • A team member does not want to do a boring or mundane task; they may delay in doing it, in hopes the leader will do it.

The bottom line is, when a person's workload is lightened, they benefit from negative reinforcement. In other words, they get recognized for poor or unwanted behavior when the leader feels guilty or just does not want to deal with the friction of holding someone accountable. Human nature 101 indicates that these team members will repeat their successful behavior.

Who allowed this to happen? The leader! Who will subconsciously try to rationalize their behavior by simply telling themselves, "It's hard to find good people these days" or "It's easier to do it myself"? The leader!

Often, I tell leaders that a quick way to gain respect from your team members is confronting the people not doing it on behalf of the people who are doing it!

On July 11th, I will be conducting a complimentary webinar titled "How to Have Productive Difficult Conversations." I will show you how to approach and deal with people who are using weaponized incompetence, plus many more challenging situations.

Leaders, just because you were good at doing it does not necessarily mean you will be good at getting it done through others. Leaders are made, NOT born.

Click here to register for the free webinar on July 11th from 11 am to 11:30 am CST.

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1 Comment

Jesse Kelly
Jul 15, 2023

Great article, love that you were able to include this topic in your blog. I did show it to my girlfriend : )

-Jesse from IT

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