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Dilbert Has Left the Building

The desire to help people tap into their potential to achieve personal and organizational greatness stems from a deep curiosity about the effect leadership has on organizational behavior. And an aversion to mediocrity. Life’s too short to spend 40 hours or more a week doing something that drains your energy. Working for a paycheck simply makes you (and those around you) miserable. We can turn status quo management around by letting go of the desire to control the people around us. Oh… and let’s have some fun along the way, please.

The Dilbert Principle

Thanks to Scott Adams, we have Dilbert to show us how ridiculous our work environments can be. It’s time to evolve. Let’s retire the pointy headed managerial style and enable people to play to their strengths regardless of where they sit on the org chart.

The First Rule of Leadership

I learned the most important lesson in management in the mid-80s. I worked for a pizza delivery company and had just been promoted out of the rank of drivers to manager trainee. My boss taught me how to:

  • Take inventory, order food, and minimize waste so that the company operated profitably
  • Perform a weekly P&L so I could keep an eye on margins so that the company operated profitably
  • Fill out employee evaluation forms

Unfortunately, he did not teach me how to recruit, interview, select, and effectively manage or lead people. At least not directly. As a result, I was able to run a profitable store by the numbers and customers were satisfied with the consistent quality of their pizzas. But morale hit rock bottom. The staff went from liking me as a co-worker to despising me as a manager—quickly.

One night we were so busy I put all of my staff on the road and single-handedly ran the inside operations. I answered phones, made and cut pizzas, got drinks ready, routed orders, and got change for the drivers. The company’s owner stopped by and watched me sweat bullets as I juggled all of the inside tasks, barked terse orders at the staff, and kept things running as smoothly as possible.

The evening was a total disaster. I wondered why the owner didn’t pitch in but was too proud to ask for help. I got help anyway. And it came from a completely unexpected direction.

When the phones stopped ringing he pulled me aside and said, “Nobody likes to work for an asshole.”

In that single moment the owner handed me the gift of a lifetime. I’d been emulating his management style and he didn’t even realize it! Upon reflection I recognized just how much we all disliked working for him. No wonder I was having leadership issues.

Since that time I’ve learned to transform organizations and teams by deliberately creating progressive work environments by focusing on style, chemistry, diversity, attitude, aptitude and the infrastructure needed to support extraordinary achievement. When you get these elements right your culture thrives. The Dilberts of the world choose to move on to other opportunities as your teams and company achieve astonishing results.

Oh, and I’ve also learned to ask for help. We all need smart, motivated people around us to raise the bar on our own performance. Please contact us if you’re seeking a cultural shift that puts chemistry to work in your favor.

© 2012. All rights reserved.

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