“Fear will keep the local systems in line”
— Governor Tarkin
I’ve just found a nice infographic from The Performance Room: Leaders who Destroy vs Leaders Who Deliver. This reminds me of the “results-based” obsession and culture that sometimes lead to un-sustainability and gross externalization.
Two items from the infographic struck my heart about leaders who destroy:
- They myopically focused on results.
- They are political.
Those remind me of a story that a professor told when I attended his Financial Management class for MBA.
Once upon a time there was an operator of a milling machine. He operated his machine at near 100% capacity with almost no downtime. Whereas his colleagues operated their respective machines at around 70%-80% capacity to allow for downtime and maintenance. His production soared through the roof. Upper Management was pleased and then he got promoted to foreman. Then another guy was promoted to an operator to take his place and run his machine. A few months in the job, the New Operator’s machine fell apart due to its previous operator almost didn’t maintain it and ran it to capacity. To cover his tracks, the New Foreman fired the New Operator who “broke the machine”.
This reminds me of the “myopically focused on results” row in the graphic below. Both Upper Management and the New Foreman were both obsessed with results. Moreover the New Foreman is very apt in politics and quickly made a scapegoat out of the New Operator to cover his less-than-stellar former practice.
Moreover being “myopically focused on results” is also an example of gross externalization. The New Foreman was focusing on getting that promotion at any cost as long as he’s not paying for it. Just like how we are polluting the environment to the max just because we’re not paying for it (yet). My professor was wise to tell the story in a finance class, because these externalized costs are not likely to show in balance sheets or financial projections — but they exists nevertheless and are essentially invisible debts.