The Real Score

January 17, 2010

People who think they can be everything to everyone fascinate me, especially when it comes to leadership.  This is a quiz designed to frustrate them because you have to choose only one from each pair.  Even worse, I’m going to ask you how you actually behave, not what you think you would do.  Are you game?

A- My job is to inspire my team, so I have a vision I share with them that they can believe in.


B-  My job is to motivate my team, so I give them rewards for a job well done.

A- I spend some time most days focusing on what I need to do to achieve my vision.


B- I spend some time most days focusing on achieving the desired outcomes.

A- I know where I’m going and I expect my team is following.


B- I frequently check in and herd my team so they don’t get lost as they work toward the goals.

A- I explain what I want to my team as they seem to need it.


B- I have documented very clear rules and I expect my team to follow them.

A- I give my team wide berth to do their jobs in the way that makes sense to them.


B- I am careful to set reasonable limits on how far people are allowed to deviate from my plans.

A- I thank my team for being there.


B- I praise my team for doing things well.

Add up your As and your Bs and don’t be too concerned which you had more of.  You are who you are: if you have more As, most people would say you’re more of a leader. If you have more Bs, they’d say you’re more of a manager.  One isn’t better than the other; they’re just different.

But that’s not the real score.

To get your real score, answer these two questions:

1- In how many instances was it very difficult for you to choose only one option?  (The more difficult, the more likely you actually are capable of doing both, which is, after all, what needs to get done if you’re going to have anything to lead.)

2- In how many instances did you think of someone else on your team who prefers the opposite of your choice?  (The greater the number, the more likely you focus on the team rather than yourself.)

The real score is that leadership happens when you’re not thinking about it.  It happens when you focus so much on supporting other people that they can’t think of you as anything other than a leader.


There’s a long tradition of having ‘yes-men’ around to do your bidding.  Had two conversations this week from which I’ve learned that (a) ‘yes-men’ are still alive and well and working in huge, successful (at the moment) companies, and (b) CEOs are realizing that, in the long run, they stifle innovation.

Conversation 1 was saddening, though enlightening.  A clearly, painfully diffuse person reporting to a CEO with a definite tendency to be rigid was praised as ‘the best person I ever hired.’  Well, okay, rigid people like diffuse people – they are the original ‘yes-men.’  But you’d think he’d want to use hard data.  Actually, even if he did, I’d be suspicious.  I bet he does enough work to cover Mr. Yes’s backside.  Well, you can’t help everyone.

Conversation 2 was uplifting and enlightening.  A head of state (not in the US) was speaking to the CEO of a vendor and bemoaning his inability to find the right people for key positions.  He wanted integrity, productivity, and obedience.  I laughed with delight as the CEO related this.  These are the words of a Founder/Vision Mover.  This head of state is totally coherent and wants obedience yes – to his Vision, not his whims!  That’s just the basic respect due him.  But they hire by resume so they are probably attracting diffuse ‘yes-men’ who’ve never produced on their own.  Here’s one that can be helped.

Conclusion: ‘Yes-men’ may flatter your ego, but they will obscure your Vision.  Better a nice loud “no” every so often rather than being blind to the promises of the future!

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