T-learning # Idiom
Speak Like a Native

too many chiefs and not enough Indians

Click below to listen to the phrase.

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) not enough workers

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

Of American-English origin, the phrase ’too many chiefs and not enough Indians’, also ’all chiefs and no Indians’, is used to refer to a situation in which there are too many people giving orders and not enough to carry them out.

In business it means there are too many managers, supervisors, bosses and not enough workers to work efficiently.

French translation

trop de chefs

How NOT to translate : *trop de chefs et pas assez d’Indiens


Examples in context

‘‘‘We are terribly over-governed’ in Australia : Smith

Sky News host Chris Smith says we are terribly over-governed in this country, which has been made “way too obvious” by all ”this division at the top during COVID”.

Too many chiefs and not enough accurate and scientifically based decision makers, ” Mr Smith said.

Mr Smith assessed the recent National Cabinet meeting, and the pathway out of the pandemic, which was highlighted by the prime minister.

Skynews, com.au, 4 July 2021


Too many chiefs will spoil the SOPs, say business groups

PETALING JAYA : Business groups have voiced their opposition to having each ministry draw up its own SOPs, saying it will cause confusion and hurt traders even if economic sectors are allowed to operate.

Reacting to senior minister for security Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s announcement on the matter, they say the lack of clarity is a running theme, and last-minute changes and SOPs announced without warning in the past have already taken their toll.

Ismail said at a press conference yesterday that each ministry would be responsible for setting SOPs for sectors under its purview for the nationwide movement control order (MCO) that begins today.

Free Malaysia Today, 12 May 2021


Everyday usage

Everyone wants to be the brains of this project, but there are too many chiefs and not enough Indians !

This business unit has 5 executive directors. No surprise, then, that some insiders say there are too many chiefs.

EnglishTonic and Claramedia, 15 November 2021

b) too many women

Come on !! Wrong answer. Please try again.

c) too many cooks

Sorry, wrong answer. Please try again.

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