Skip to content

Cascading Leadership Series – Move ‘em On Up?

Posted by Amy Lynch on January 4, 2024

Happy New Year! Thanks for being here as we kick off year two of the Organizational Muscle Blog!

We’re jumping into 2024 talking about leadership and structure, starting with what Dr Laurence J. Peter coined “the Peter Principle.”

The Peter Principle For Promotions

Skills and competencies in a job description are trained through cascading leadership.

We don’t want to promote people to the point of their incompetence. That is a common workplace experience called the Peter Principle. The Peter Principle happens when employees perform well in their jobs, so they are promoted to the next level of the hierarchy. Then, they continue to climb the ladder until they reach the point where they no longer perform well—incompetent, yet stuck in their current position. You don’t want this!

You gotta consider ‘time span’!

Before we promote, we employ a concept that Elliot Jaques terms “time span” in his book Requisite Organization. It means “the ability to work unsupervised into the future.” As a leader, it means you ask, “How long can this employee be left alone and stay on task?” Employers should determine this critical information before leaving an employee alone!

Some folks have a low time span; they work hour to hour and live week to week. A lot of your employees will fit that category. Folks with a short time span may be able to learn and grow—I did. As I have gotten older, I plan farther and farther ahead, able to take on more responsibility. Sometimes, I even recognize problems before they develop! I have learned from my mistakes, and my time span has grown.

If you push an employee beyond their natural time span, it will create stress and possibly failure.

Failure is not always terrible if someone learns from it. However, there is a cost to failure, and you should think about what those costs will be before you make decisions about delegating responsibility, independence, and promotions.

Next week, we’ll discuss how to determine an employee’s time span and use that information to position them (and, therefore, the company!) for success.

Build muscle in 2024!

Categories: Articles