Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Once you know... the secret your executives don't want you to know.

"If you have to ask you'll never know; if you know, you need only ask." 
–Helena Ravenclaw
Have you ever watched pro wrestling? Its fine. I don't judge. I have watched pro wrestling and the funny thing is when I was a kid I thought it was real. Obviously it is fake. What interests me about pro wrestling is the transition from believing it to be real and then coming to the realization that it is fake.

Corporate business is pro wrestling. The suits, the hierarchy, the job titles, the meetings... these are part of the show. It seemed so real when I started and it still seams real to many of my successful friends and coworkers. The show is well preformed and has been improving the script for nearly an hundred years.

Once I saw it, it became difficult to sit still. Maybe it was my relatives who are executives and business owners, maybe it was my Montessori schooling, maybe it was my classical education that taught me to question everything; but somewhere along the way I learned that your company's executives are just flawed in-laws. There is nothing special about them or their ability to make decisions.

These flawed in-laws will change their minds on a whim and call it good business instinct. A little pressure from a friend and they will cut divisions or merge with their neighbors. Your executives' ability to make solid business decisions is not special and, in fact, might be dangerous. They aren't endowed with special leadership qualities or business sense.

Don't accept your leaders' decisions on face value. Challenge them, make them look at the data, keep them honest and above all lead them. The game they grew up with has changed. Many of the current business leaders grew up learning a different type of business. A few decades have passed and the economy has taken on a new personality. It is up to us to teach our executives and train them to lead in the new economy.

There is a new kind of business leader emerging, a new generation of leaders; collaborative, data driven, inclusive leaders who know that business is about improvement. It doesn't matter who has the title or wears the expensive suits, the new leaders are taking matters into their own hands. We will not sit by and watch our executives drive their companies aground.

Now that you know your executives are just aunts and uncles it's time to treat them as such. Getting a promotion or pushing your agenda is simply a matter of asking yourself how would you sway your aunt.