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What’s wrong with promoting Peter (the Peter Principle)?

Poor Peter. General counsel across the land have repented that they promoted a solid practicing lawyer to become an ill-suited manager. Or the capable manager of a practice area, they promoted to a direct-report position with more scope – and too many opportunities to stumble.

The Peter Principle, a cynical acknowledgement that sometimes people are promoted above their level of ability, plays out with Peters, Pauls, and Marys. Not everyone craves or deserves more responsibility; not everyone rises to the expectations of a promotion (See my post of March 16, 2006 about A positions and A players.). As John John Milton wrote, “They also serve who only stand and wait.”

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