Originally written for Business Style Magazine. In the past few years I’ve become very fascinated with what qualities make an outstanding leader. I’ve run across very few who have inspired me. Unfortunately there have also been individuals who could use more than a little help leading a team.
Yesterday I spent about half an hour cleaning up the dog waste in my yard. And let me clarify, my dog is not just any dog, she’s a Great Dane–which means, and I’m holding back here, she’s quite “prolific” if you catch my drift. As I was shoveling (and yes, I do mean, shoveling), I got to thinking about how much of our days are spent cleaning up someone else’s piles. Whether it’s a fresh steamer or an old, decayed mass, collectively we’re really creating a lot of sh*t for someone else to clean up.
There’s no better, concrete example right now than the mess that BP has created, but I’m not going to rant about that because a) it’s already been done and b) I’ll just sound like a dumb-dumb if I sound off on environmental issues. I’m curious about other hefty heaps that might have more local resonance.
Right now I am, in fact, obsessed with workplace dynamics and business leadership. I’m not going to name names, but I used to work for someone whose M.O. was (like clockwork) this:
1. Hire super-smart, talented person
2. Promise a collaborative, empowering work environment
3. Creatively cripple him/her within about 4 weeks
4. Create chaos and crisis
5. Swoop in to solve crisis (see #4)
6. Blame crisis on aforementioned super-smart, talented person and then look to replace them because you had to come in and solve the crisis due to their ineptitude.
7. Celebrate your own crisis management skills, all the while wondering why you’re the only competent person in the whole damn place.
Whew, I just had a PTSD moment typing that out.
Doing a good job is hard enough without someone, particularly your boss, coming in and creating a mess for you to clean up. That’s why I’m so shocked and surprised when my friends, colleagues or clients talk about bosses who actually respect their opinion and mentor them. While this feels like a novel concept, it should, in fact, be a requirement of managers and business owners.
My good friend Eric Fritz, owner of KEVA Sports Center in Middleton, sent this blog to me yesterday. It’s a pretty good read and asks a great question, “where are the business heroes?”
To this end, I’m going to look for some business heroes. I’m hopeful about finding them and, while I recognize that there is no perfect job, perfect place or perfect boss, there is perfection to be found working with people who help you sort through your sh*t, instead of dumping it on you.