Friday, August 12, 2011

You Can't Lead if You Can't Manage


We keep hearing about leadership.  Why?  Why are we discussing leadership when we can’t even manage to manage?

For the purposes of this discussion, we will discuss a team in your company.  There are three members on this team.  Athos, Porthos, and Aramis. 

If you are thinking “All for one and one for all,” you are thinking of The Three Musketeers.  That was then.  This is now.

The Boss, Mr. Odious, has received several complaints from Athos and Porthos that Aramis is not pulling his own weight.  Mr. Odious tends to ignore these things.  That is until Mr. Hammerhead hears about it.

Mr. Odious calls the three into his office.  You’ve heard it all before.  You may even sell this stuff.

Mr. Odious says, “There is no I in team” and he proceeds to talk about the visioning process, shared vision, group-think, and consensus building.  When he is finished, and after having mentioned efficiency, productivity, and personal responsibility, he hands each employee a smiley-face key chain, and sends the three back to work.

Mr. Odious tells Mr. Hammerhead that he had a talk and things should be fine.  Mr. Hammerhead is not reassured. 

The Big Boss does not want to hear about problems.  He doesn’t even want to hear about solutions.  Why not?  Because solutions mean problems.

The problem of Aramis continues.  Now, there is a bigger problem.  Mr. Hammerhead calls Mr. Odious and Aramis into his office.

“Mr. Odious, do you have the sales figures for the first two quarters?”


“Yes or no!”

“No, Sir.”

“Do you have a draft of the Quilby contract?  Yes or no?”

“No, Sir.”

“Which person in your department was responsible for these assignments?”

“Aramis, Sir.”

“Mrs. McGillicuddy, have D'Artagnan report to my office.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Odious, Aramis is off the team.  D‘Artagnan will handle the assignments.”

Yes, Sir.”

“You may leave now, Aramis.  Odious, you stay.”

“Yes, Sir.”

“Odious, I can easily see that you cannot manage.  You received complaints on more than one occasion that Aramis was not pulling his own weight.  We don’t have the sales figures, we don’t have a draft of the contract, and this is not acceptable.  I don’t want it to happen again.  Understood?

“Yes, Sir.”

“That’s all.”

It is not long before Mr. Odious is replaced by D’Artagnan.

The main reason is that Athos and Porthos lost all respect for Mr. Odious.  Athos and Porthos have jobs to do.  The company relies on their accomplishing their assignments.  Aramis was the weak link.  Mr. Odious was a weaker link.  Mr. Odious not only could not lead, he could not even manage.

This plagues American business.

Athos and Porthos have a great deal of respect for D’Artagnan.  He knows his stuff.  He is capable of helping Athos and Porthos.  He has the respect of Mr. Hammerhead.  Mr. Hammerhead already knows D’Artagnan will be replacing Mr. Odious.

Mr. Hammerhead is a leader.  He is respected.  People want fair play.  They don’t want smiley-face key chains.

Had Mr. Hammerhead not replaced Mr. Odious, he would have both lost the respect of his employees and he would have lost the confidence of his bosses.

We have had our ability to manage, and by extension our ability to lead, compromised over the past several decades.

Leadership is this simple:

“Look behind you.  If people are following you, you’re a leader.  If they’re not, you’re not.”  The Quotations of Slim Fairview



PS.  I am not Paul Harvey.  However, I am open to becoming a paid commentator, columnist, or blogger. If you’ve found anything I said to be helpful, please don’t hesitate to send me one of those tricked-out laptops and to tuck a few dollars into the envelope along with the thank you note.

Copyright © 2011 Slim Fairview
All rights reserved.