So, since recently moving to Europe, I’ve been working on business development and doing a lot of networking…and I’ve come across quite a few characters. This month, I wanted to point out a couple of ‘leader’ personas to watch out for! Yes they’re successful and to some extent capable, but there’s a reason they got to where they are, and it’s not always ability or intellect.
He’s there because he has that ‘something’. Let me be clear: not the leader ‘something’, but that general ‘something’. The something that you noticed in that realtor who somehow made it to Sotheby’s, the something that waiter had in that fancy new restaurant that only serves an obscenely expensive 5-course $300 feast , the something that your best friend would say George Clooney has. What I am describing helps push certain people in a miraculous way to certain branches on the tree of success…why are people with this ‘something’ never truck drivers, construction workers, regular Joes?
Well, amazingly this ‘something’ also works its magic in the business world. The Charmer is easily spotted as he is usually an ugly duckling among white swans, just vice-versa. He is a highly influential ‘leader’ at a senior position, albeit with mediocre abilities. He lacks obvious professional and leadership skills, but the charm closes gaps left by his missing knowledge and experience. His ego clearly drives his interaction with people; however, people are willing to look through his ‘minor’ faults just because the overall experience of being around this persona – the karma around this guy (let me for the first time say: or girl) is like opium.
He is a good representative for the company, says upper management.
Nevertheless, occasionally some people will be able to register his mediocre capabilities and wonder how he got there where he is…usually those who work for the Charmer. He typically succeeds and moves forward not because of his outstanding work, or a team that follows him and his great leadership, but because he just appears to be great choice for that top-floor corner office.
“He just looks like a leader”…yeah…right.
The Safe Haven
He seems like a good (think: safe) choice for a leader. After the last guy who put the company on the cover of a gossip magazine because he was caught in striptease bar, you finally want a Safe Haven to lead your business and people. You know that a Safe Haven will never cause scandals or misbehave. He also looks smart with those glasses (it’s good that he’s not too sexy or comes across as distractingly attractive), is articulate (I mean, he never delivered an outstanding speech, but he always has well-structured presentations), has a normal family life (yeah, he won’t do anything stupid, since he needs to support his stay-at-home wife and young children) . So what if his track record is not outstanding – leaders are made, not born – at least the board sometimes buys that.
And while upper management is happy with the Safe Haven, the consequences are felt among the people who should follow him. He is just not the type to inspire and motivate his team. He doesn’t have the passion to push for that extra mile. He is ok, an outstanding average. His team doesn’t love him nor hate him. He’s just simply ‘blah’. A leader appointed by the guys from the top floor because he’s a risk-free leader – both for the company and for success.
I’m sure there are other prototypes out there…other types of leaders that you and I have come across over time, and somewhere among them are true leaders…guys like Steve Jobs (anything against Steve Jobs, keep it to yourself please! ) who have a little bit of charm, a little bit of common sense, and a lot of drive, intellect, and vision.
Have you recently run across some ‘interesting’ leader?