Woman Explains Why Most Jobs Are Filled With ‘Mediocre At Best’ Leaders With ‘No Discernible Talent’

She says it's long past time for us all to put our imposter syndrome aside and recognize our worth.

employees and woman vectorfusionart via Shutterstock.com / @faganchelsea via TikTok

If you've been in the working world — and especially the corporate world — for any length of time you've surely encountered people who have risen through the ranks despite not seeming all that skilled at... well, anything at all.

It's easy to feel incompetent yourself in these situations—you work hard and are good at your job, so why aren't you rising through the ranks too? 

A TikToker has a simple explanation for all the mediocre leaders 'with no discernible talent' in our offices.

Working with, and especially under, these kinds of people can be a mystifying experience. So much about how to succeed in the working world is so opaque in the first place that watching people who seem sort of... well, downright incompetent succeed can make it all seem even more mysterious.


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But TikToker Chelsea Fagan, known as @faganchelsea on the app, says it's really no mystery at all. Like so much else in life, most successful people's achievement comes down to the deck being unfairly stacked in their favor.



Fagan says she never falls into impostor syndrome because she's realized how little business success has to do with actually being good at your job.

The reason we're all working under so many leaders with no discernible talent, as Fagan puts it, is simply down to good old-fashioned privilege. "One thing about me," she said in her video, "is that I never have imposter syndrome."


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But it's not because she's particularly skilled or one of those lucky people for whom things come easy. "It's more that I realize that basically every industry is full of idiots," she bluntly put it. "I genuinely think a lot of people... don't realize just how many successful people are like mediocre at best at what they do."

Fagan says this all makes sense when you take into account what it actually takes to "reach a high level" in really any field of work — "things like having connections, having enough generational wealth to be able to go to college and get an advanced degree, nepotism, networking," as well as the "white cis-male privileges that often go into success."

Which is not to say there aren't plenty of incompetent female bosses out there. But if you've been in the working world long enough you've probably noticed the way the balance tilts in a more male direction — and even the experts agree that Fagan is spot-on in her explanation for why.


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Fagan's take plays into the notion of how men tend to 'fail upward,' and experts say it's because companies focus on all the wrong criteria when hiring leaders.

The concept of men failing upward is nothing new — women have long decried the ways they are penalized for mistakes that tend to become learning opportunities for advancement when committed by men. It's just one of the many ways male privilege manifests in the workplace, and it's so infuriatingly common that it is even said to have inspired infamous grifter Anna Delvey to... well, turn to a life of grifting.

Columbia University business professor Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic literally wrote the book on this phenomenon, titled "Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?"


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He chalks it up to one simple thing: an overconfidence that is mistaken for a propensity for good leadership, and which is at odds with the actual reality of these people — they're incompetent but don't realize it, a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Or as Fagan puts it in her TikTok, "you're often working with people who can barely put together an email," despite being wildly successful. 

So what's the solution? Fagan suggests two things. "A driving force in my life is looking at something and being like 'I could absolutely do better than that' and then I give myself permission to do it," she says. And the other is to not give into the imposter syndrome telling you you're not good enough in the first place.


As she puts it, "just being the kind of person who's conscientious enough about the work you're doing to even consider having imposter syndrome... you're probably already better than most of the people." Amen.

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.