Dilbert - add leadership


I’ve spent the last week in a city that is itself a metaphor for leadership, rain dances and dream bubbles – Las Vegas. I’ve been showcasing Piero at NAB 2012 with our special ‘Pieros@Pieros’ event (Piero’s restaurant is not only a coincidental namesake to my company, but also an iconic Vegas restaurant, where scenes from Casino were shot). Like Vegas, faux leadership is also promise of riches with flash and sizzle, but really just a contrived scheme to slow bleed money from you. It would be great if all bass bosses were as clear delineated as the pointedy-haired manager in Dilbert. But the fact of the matter is that the real hazards are the bosses who seduce stakeholders with all the showy trappings of leadership with no intention or capability of every delivering.

I’ve illustrated various ‘rain dances’ that such false leaders perform, but what about the ‘rain dancers’ themselves. Here are a few rain dancers personas to be wary of who exhibit manifestations of Leadership and Management without doing much of either…

  • Politicians – These people don’t concern themselves with either optimising the upside or minimising the downside *for the organisation*, but rather operate solely/primarily focused on their own personal gain or loss. The mob bosses of the executive world.
  • Non-Execs – Unfortunately, the whole system of ‘Non-Executive Directors’ is so perverted against serious contribution to leadership or management that I have found in the vast majority of cases they are utterly useless. Let’s be clear, a Non-Exec is a plum position which has prestige (‘hey, I’m on the Board’), generous remuneration (thousands of pounds for a few hours work) and no operational responsibility (eg. no deadlines, no deliverables, little accountability). Very *few people rock that sweet gig* with challenging questions or demands. Most appointments are ‘political’ resembling the pragmatic royal court marriages of centuries past where alliances were made through betrothal (Hypercorp keeps well positioned in the industry by appointing exec from Megalith Inc.). The sugardaddied and toy boys of the executive world.
  • Task Masters– These bosses don’t focus on either the upside or downside of the outcome because they *don’t really focus on outcomes* at all. They concern themselves with overseeing whether activity is done or not. They do not look at either the higher purpose nor the underlying means. The completion of an activity can have the appearance of and can even be correlated to an outcome, but the confusing the ‘activity’ with the ‘outcome’ is one of the rookie errors of leader/managers. The activity directors of the executive world.
  • Cheerleaders– These bosses are all talk and style, but little substance. They may provide a degree of flash-in-the-pan *energizing* , but like a shot of espresso or Red Bull, but the impact is shallow and transient if not supported by more tangible and substantial stuff underneath it. The stage shows of the executive world.

The best way to handle any of these types in your organisation, either above you or below you in the hierarchy, is to steer clear of them firstly, but mostly always work focusing the attention on the real outcomes that provide substantive benefit to the organisation and the inherent opportunities and risks in achieving them.