One of my favorite Warren Buffet quotes is "In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you." This quote was the first thing I thought of after reading Kevin Voigt’s article in CNN International’s Business section titled “Bad bosses: The psycho-path to success.”
Beyond a terrific title, the article forces us to think about the values our company enforces when making hires and promotions.
Fortunately, I’ve only had one psycho-path boss and I’ve never had a psycho-path client but according to the data, some of you probably have. Dr. Robert Hare
, a Canadian psychologist who is co-author of the book "Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go To Work
” suggests about 4% of senior managers displayed psychopathic tendencies, up from the 1% that researchers say could normally be found in society.
Many companies, maybe yours, identify and print their corporate values. They are almost always “apple pie” sort of values, as you would imagine they would be. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any company list cunning, manipulative and psychotic as their most admired values.
We can all have fun with this discussion, but the serious question I’d like you to answer is “have the last five promotions you’ve made been given to people that eat, sleep and breath your company values?” Is performance more important than your stated values? It is easy to say no, but go back and check your hires and promotions to settle the question once and for all.
Consider your last successful change effort. Chances are you got everyone excited about the change and folks were able to make an emotional connection. I’m guessing one of the next things you did was to empower a broad base of action. That means people are going to be asked to do specific things and you're going to seed those actions with your guiding team. Specific actions to empower people and get them involved.
It's one thing that they're emotionally connected. They made the emotional connection initially, but now they need to turn that emotion into action. Specific actions. It can be very simple actions. It doesn't have to be earth shattering. Just a very specific action you want them to take.
Then you’ll want to generate short-term wins. You may even create those short-term wins. You want to create an environment where you can generate a positive result. As a leader, you may have been quite certain of the results. Perhaps the result was in your back pocket all the time. You’ll want to create some momentum through a series of short term wins.
Think of the flywheel. We've got this thing going and we want a little bit more juice to keep it going. And then it just takes off and it moves on its own for a while. You want to create enough momentum, small and even repeatable wins, that you can get people excited about it. Because if you don't have any early short-term wins – that broad based team will loose heart and the change will not happen.