Random Acts of Leadership

Every so often, they come down from the executive floor to give the appearance of doing something useful…


Many colleagues are gifted performers, knowing their subject matter inside out and able to wield that knowledge through a mastery of practice.

[Note: avoid having these colleagues on any project team – if asked by the client to bring them into the engagement, find a way to make the expert fail, no matter how damaging to your ability to capture future business – we’ll discuss why later]

These are the people that deliver the bananas at the end of the day – not literally, you understand, unless perhaps they work for an early evening banana-supply company.

[Note: For knowledge management database – look at potential start up related to the feeding of insomniac primates]

So, bringing home the bacon, delivering the bananas, creaming the cheese of the corporate bagel, you may imagine these colleagues would be granted almost limitless freedom to pursue their, dare we say it, art in the line of business.

Most of the time this is the case. They are, after all, the ones who turn in sufficient numbers (bacon, bananas, etc) each month/quarter to prevent the rest of the wasters, lollygaggers and deadbeats who claim to earn their salary from having to avoid the final destination of the HR representative’s office, facing a holier-than-thou stare, a severance payment and a 5000 question exit interview. If high performers didn’t get the liberty to perform, all the other low performers would stand out like a carbuncle on Heidi Klum’s posterior.

[Note: For knowledge management database – check if there are any potential engagements protecting HK’s rear-end from carbuncular activity – kill to get that gig]

You would think that is how it would be. You really would. You would think that any self-respecting executive would know that blocking the activity of a high performing banana-delivery operative would isolate not only the poor performers but also the manager, i.e. the executive, who let it happen on his or her watch (we are an equal opportunity sarcasticizer)

[Note: Made up words that could be real are cool.]

And yet they don’t. They just can’t resist. They just have to participate in a:

Random Act of Leadership

Definition: A totally unexpected, unnecessary and unwanted intervention delivered by an executive who doesn’t know as much about the work in hand as the person intervented-upon. Essential in this definition is the fact that the RAoL be only partially directed towards delivering the business at hand. Tangential thinking is key to the well-executed RAoL

Examples:
1) Providing unwanted guidance to someone who already knows what they are doing and the expected outcome
2) Revisiting successful deliverables and asking for a debrief on why they weren’t done differently
3) Chartering a team to deliver work that’s already being delivered
4) Calling together executives who have been around for donkey’s years and not changed one iota to envision a future state

As a badconsultant, you must watch for the RAoL. It is something to be nurtured. For every little spark can grow into a powerful flame if fed the right fuel. Like the high performer. Fuel.

If you spot a RAoL on the brew, grab the nearest high performer and ask them what the likely outcome will be, how to avoid that outcome, and what success would look like if the executive just happened to jump out a window. Once you have that information down – and squirreled away in the knowledge management database – grab the high performer by the shoulders, watch for the oncoming juggernaut of the RAoL and push. Hard.

Once the executive – who, by definition has delivered very little but has sucked up well enough to get the top job – has crushed whatever enthusiasm the high performer had, chewing them up and spitting them out on the side of the road, step in and praise the initiative they’re showing, drop hints that you had a ‘previous client’ who had done something similar, on a project upon which you’d been a key player and of course you’d be happy to share the learnings (never mind that the ‘previous client’ you’re talking about is the high performer lying chewed up and spat out in the disengagement gutter). Flatter, flatter, flatter.

Ink the deal.

RAoL’s – lucrative, high opportunity, easy. Be sure to monitor for these if you have a dumb, rich client – the potential for billable hours is never-ending.

Time for this badconsultant to go and check his knowledge management database – in the meantime, be greedy when others are fearful, and greedy when others are greedy… In fact, just be greedy all the time.

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