Have you noticed how valuable it can be to simply pay attention to what’s going on? As leader of your company, you can benefit from critically observing the good, the bad, and the ugly emanating from leaders in the limelight. It is my nature to highlight the positive lessons you can absorb from others. I’m going to deviate from that nature today. I simply cannot ignore the barrage of clear lessons of what not to do that have come our way recently. Here are my top picks:
- Publicly belittling your perceived foes using childish language – not good.
- Publicly berating key members of your management team – poison.
- Falling in love with a project and refusing to let it die, even in the face of new developments that would compel a dispassionate observer to change course – not smart.
You wouldn’t be running an organization if you weren’t at least sensitive to these exhibitions of incompetence. Continue to observe what eventually comes from possessing healthy grey matter but lacking emotional maturity, and learn from it.
Hold on! I almost forgot two of the most important lessons to be learned from last year.
- Do not use social media of any type to communicate anything serious about your organization – totally inappropriate.
- Lying is bad form – period.
Milo Competes at Lacrosse
Competition. Where does it fit in your company culture?
It might be helpful to step back a couple paces and consider where competition exists within organizations in a healthy, thriving American culture? How about on a sports team? Within the military? In school? Within a family? In a government organization? A hospital? A medical research team?
Most reasonable people seem to conclude that competition is a good thing under certain circumstances and a bad thing under others. But the general concept is contentious, more so than in the past. And I have witnessed the swing of the pendulum over my lifetime, with an increasing number of people finding an increasing number of circumstances under which they believe competition is not good.
I began my business career with GE, and I was reminded of the competitiveness of that environment recently when I listened to a Freakonomics podcast in which Michael Dubner interviewed Jack Welch, retired CEO of GE. The following is a verbatim, unedited, transcript of one of the points that Welch made during that interview.
Look, differentiation is part of my whole belief in management. And treating everybody the same is ludicrous. And I don’t buy it. I don’t buy what people write about it. It’s not cruel and Darwinian and things like that, that people like to call it. A baseball team publishes every day the batting averages. And you don’t see the .180 hitter getting all the money, or all the raises. Now that’s the purest form. Athletics is the purest form of differentiation, because it’s public. Everybody understands it, the fans understand it, the people understand it. Big business is more subtle and it’s more qualitative. So the precision isn’t there to differentiate. So judgment’s important. But you don’t win with a gang of mediocre players in business or in baseball.
Welch believed and clearly still believes in “radical candor” when it comes to evaluating individual performance, and in rewarding the best performers while helping the worst performers find a different career.
Where do you stand on competition within a business organization? Is your position significantly different when it comes to non-business organizations or communities? Why not bring this up for discussion the next time you socialize with some of your business peers? Better yet, share your thoughts below.