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Status Seekers And Superheroes

Some people don’t like the dude, but I love Richard Branson. Why? Because he breaks the mold of CEOs who steadfastly cling to their self-image of infallibility and hide within their enclaves for fear of ruining said image and appearing human. Check out this paragraph from “It’s all About the People“.

Try to avoid hiring status seekers, as they tend to distance themselves from their employees. Look for people who care passionately about the company and not simply their status within it. In my experience, they must want to build a business that all its employees can all be proud of – one that will look after its staffers and customers alike. Of course, you can’t get it right every time. When you do make the wrong management decision, it’s vital to act decisively. As the saying goes, “Rot starts at the top”. – Richard Branson

The trick, of course, is knowing how to separate the wheat from the chaff; the bozos from the non-bozos. Mr. Branson goes on to talk about the importance of ferreting out problems before they mushroom into full blown crises:

How will you know when things are going wrong? In the early days at Virgin, I would give out my phone number to all our music company staffers and tell them to call me whenever they felt we were doing something really wrong. This was key to our development as a business, both because it helped me to identify problems early on and, more importantly, because it let the employees know that management was ready to listen to them. Fostering this kind of dialogue is essential if you want to build a company that will grow and thrive. Your staff will feel more valued and committed if they really believe you are listening to them, and you will benefit from hearing a lot of great ideas from the people on the front lines. – Richard Branson

I think the two points that Richard illuminates go hand in hand. When a SASS  (who shouldn’t have been hired in the first place) is the primary cause of a problem, he/she will cleverly camouflage and redirect the blame. Having successfully moved him/her self out of harm’s way, our SASS will next offer to step up, don his/her superhero suit, and dissolve the crisis. Of course, the SASSholes situated above our superhero in the CCH will happily guzzle the full glass of koolaid.

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