Tax Filing Day. A boring day in most people’s books…except for perhaps the dullest of leader/managers.
It turns out that dullness is not just something to celebrate in a town or day. It is actually a precious ingredient in business leadership according to David Brooks’ piece in the New York Times ‘In Praise of Dullness,’ David Brooks (thanks Mom)….
- “They relied on detailed personality assessments of 316 C.E.O.’s and measured their companies’ performances. They found that strong people skills correlate loosely or not at all with being a good C.E.O. Traits like being a good listener, a good team builder, an enthusiastic colleague, a great communicator do not seem to be very important when it comes to leading successful companies. What mattered, it turned out, were execution and organizational skills. The traits that correlated most powerfully with success were attention to detail, persistence, efficiency, analytic thoroughness and the ability to work long hours. In other words, warm, flexible, team-oriented and empathetic people are less likely to thrive as C.E.O.’s. Organized, dogged, anal-retentive and slightly boring people are more likely to thrive. These results are consistent with a lot of work that’s been done over the past few decades. In 2001, Jim Collins published a best-selling study called ‘Good to Great.’ He found that the best C.E.O.’s were not the flamboyant visionaries. They were humble, self-effacing, diligent and resolute souls who found one thing they were really good at and did it over and over again…What these traits do add up to is a certain ideal personality type. The C.E.O.’s that are most likely to succeed are humble, diffident, relentless and a bit unidimensional. They are often not the most exciting people to be around.”
Maybe the reason for the success of the ‘dull’ is that keeping an eye on the downside and averting it is really job one. Aiming high for an ambitious business goal tends more often than not to be just a colourful crapshoot. It’s hard to really drive the aspirational upsides (as Dilbert implies above), but it is easy to screw up the basic business so. So first thing, don’t screw up the business. It may sound boring, but it’s fundamental.