Posts Tagged ‘career’
It’s the humility with which you accept your lot in life that makes you a gentleman
For some people, for all their life, they were told that an ordinary life was for average people – and they certainly are not average.
With the easy availability of GoPRO cameras these days there a a few bikers doing, what I would call, high-speed video blogs. Basically, guys on their motorcycles with a GoPRO camera strapped to their helmet with a remote mike riding to work or pleasure riding doing a blog.
One such blogger is YouTube channel Delboy’s Garage. In addition to showing you all sorts of things related to motorcycles he does a few opinion blogs.
So, here’s an interesting blog in praise of ordinary people with ordinary jobs.
Enjoy the countryside in the UK as you listen to his opinions on the “Aspirational Snobbery of Youth.
Check out a related post
I understand why the top students in America study physics, chemistry, calculus and classic literature. The kids in this brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward. But why do we make B students sit through these same classes? That’s like trying to train your cat to do your taxes—a waste of time and money. Wouldn’t it make more sense to teach B students something useful, like entrepreneurship? – How to Get a Real Education by Scott Adams
On April 9’th 2011 there was an article in the Wall Street Journal by Scott Adams. As everyone should know, Scott Adams is the cartoonist that created the Dilbert comic strip.
My gripe with Scott Adams is that I think he has done more to perpetuate corporate dysfunction than anyone else in popular media. I am not alone in this. I stumbled on a blog entry from Mark Vogt – Why I Hate Dilbert. In part…
That’s what I HATE about it, because what I’ve seen over the years (yes, literally YEARS) is that all of the avid/devoted Dilbert follows first IDENTIFY with Dilbert’s frustration over all the myriad problems/weaknesses with the modern business world, then – this is the source of my hatred – they MIMIC his INACTION.
Each time I find myself walking past a cubicle or office (even executives’ offices) with yellowed, ragged-eared Dilbert cartoons stapled meticulously along the walls in artistic, thoughtful patterns, I mentally bookmark that person, then begin observing their behavior in meetings, on projects, in emails or even in the cafeteria….
Sure enough, a most startling & troubling pattern emerges: these people – from the lowest depths to the uppermost ranks in the company – all too often display in real life the very helpless, powerless, wimpy Dilbert behavior they “identify” with in their beloved cartoon.
The bottom line is that Dilbert, even though he realizes he works for a dysfunctional company, is utterly powerless to do anything about it. Of course Dilbert has no organizational power to change anything – he is a cubicle-dweller at the bottom of the organizational hierarchy.
But the real problem is that Dilbert can’t extricate himself from his situation. Extricating himself from his situation would mean quitting his job. And of course that can’t happen or the comic strip would end. So, for obvious comic strip reasons Dilbert does not leave his job. But far beyond the seriousness of comic strips, as the quote above points out, many people mimic Dilbert’s helplessness. And thus. effectively destroy their careers.
Now Scott Adams wants to advise you on Entrepreneurship
Surprised to see Lady Gaga at the front of the Fast Company list of the top 100 creative people for 2010? – well, maybe not. A little more reasonable is number two on the list – Eddy Cue ( read it )
Steve Jobs may own the limelight, but Eddy Cue, 46, holds the key to the Apple kingdom. Cue runs arguably the most disruptive 21st-century Web businesses: iTunes and the App Store, the latter of which is poised to create a $4 billion app economy by 2012. The unassuming Cue shot up through Apple’s ranks in the late ’80s, going from desktop support to Hollywood power broker, cutting deals for movies and music. Cue’s next campaign will be challenging Amazon’s Kindle dominance, with the Cupertino cocktail of the iPad and the iBook store.
It’s good to see someone who made it from “desktop support” to Apple Vice President. That is quite a trip – from helping someone with their desktop hardware or software to leading a part of the Apple enterprise that is projected to tap a market to generate $4 billion in revenue.
If Eddy is 46 years old now as Apple VP in 2010, and if he started out in the 1980’s as desktop support – then that is a nearly 20+ year career journey. Good for him!
The intractable definition of career success
It’s amazing the diversity of the definition of career success. If Eddy, at 46, was still a desktop support person, would he be considered a failure? Is there a “right way” and a “wrong way” when it comes to careers? How and why is Eddy Cue, at 46, a Vice President at Apple and not a desktop support person?
Is preference for progress or personal achievement an unfair bias?
Is it an unfair bias to say that people “must” have a career progression – and if not, they have failed in their careers? What about the “bias” of progress in history? Is it a foregone conclusion that we must see progress in culture and history? What if the colonization of America by Europeans resulted in the Europeans taking on the culture of native american indians and keeping the status quo?
If America was, in 2010, simply a static repetition of the native american culture and “progress” that we see today in 2010 (science, culture, technology) was erased then would America be a “failure” against its potential? What makes one way better than another way? If America never landed a man on the moon, never became a superpower, never built great cities, or did anything that America is known for, would it be considered a failure aginst its potential?
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Are personal careers like the progress of a nation or culture? Is “progress” demanded, and is it “natural”? And if the progress in your career is like the progress of history and culture then is the lack of progress considered some sort of failure? A failure of ability to achieve potential. Again, why is “progress” better than no progress? What about mediocrity? What’s so bad about mediocrity – or just being “average”? It certainly takes less effort to be average than it takes to be remarkable? Why be remarkable? What drives people toward achievement? And, why is mediocrity acceptable, and preferred, by some people?
If the worldwide global culture was still “swinging in the trees” would it matter? Or, is there something “natural” in human being that progress is natural, and that lack of progress is somehow to be avoided, undesirable, and to be discouraged?
Here is a story from Jack Canfield
Virginia Satir, the author of the classic parenting book Peoplemaking, was probably the most successful and famous family therapist that ever lived.
During her long and illustrious career, she was hired by the Michigan State Department of Social Services to provide a proposal on how to revamp and restructure the department of social services so what would serve the client population better. Sixty days later, she provided the department with a 150 page report, which they said was the most amazing piece of work they had ever seen.
She replied, “Oh, I just went out to all the social workers in your system and I asked them what it would take for the system to work better.”
One of my favorite quotes from Henry Ford is this
Why is it that whenever I ask for a pair of hands, a brain comes attached?
— Henry Ford
What amazes me is that there are still so many “industrial age” corporations out there that think like Henry Ford. That is, that the executive team has all the answers and the workers are just the “hands” that do the work and offer little else.
So, was it “brilliance” that allowed Virginia Satir to go ask the social workers how to make the system work better – or simply lack of common sense on the part of the executive team at the Michigan State Department of Social Services?
An old joke from consulting is… “a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you what time it is and then hands you a bill.” This is exactly what Virginia Satir did. She borrowed the states own employees to tell her how to do things better, compiled, analyzed, and delivered the information, then she handed the Michigan State Department of Social Services a bill.
The approach of asking employees for input on improvement must have eluded the Departments executives.
The Toyota Way
Toyota is famous for The Toyota Production System (TPS) – which is not only a manufacturing system but also a corporate culture and philosophy. A large part of TPS is employee empowerment. Here are some recent statistics
Mapping the Path
David Dotlich and Peter Cairo are a couple of executive coaches with experience coaching top executives. Along with psychologist Robert Hogan these guys put together a sort of laundry list of why executives fail. Or, in our terms, execute a fast path to a Golden Parachute.
Of note is that the list that these folks put together centers on behavior and psychological attributes of people. The list of career derailers does not include things like lack of domain knowledge, industry expertise, or other sorts of “knowledge-based factors” or “vision/strategy factors”. This is not to say that CEO’s do not lose their jobs based on performance unrelated to behavioral factors.
Behavioral and Psychological Factors that can Speed Your Exit
The focus of their list is behavioral and psychological attributes that cause people to undermine and/or sabotage their careers.
According to David Dotlich and Peter Cairo
The third thing that we know for a fact about leaders is that perhaps two-thirds of the people currently in leadership positions in the Western world will fail; they will then be fired, demoted, or kicked upstairs
… leadership failure is a behavioral phenomenon.
… leaders fail because of who they are and how they act in certain situations. Especially under stress, they respond with a pattern of behavior that can sabotage their jobs and careers. They rely on a specific way of thinking, speaking, and acting that ultimately causes them to fail. Many times, they’re not even aware that their behaviors have become reflexive.
A central focus – The inability to build a team
From Dotlich and Cairo
The most common reason for their failure will be their inability to build or maintain a team.
Their inability to build a team will be a function of certain dysfunctional dispositions, interpersonal tendencies that are usually invisible during job interviews or assessment center exercises.
These tendencies usually become apparent when people are under pressure or when they let down their guard. Moreover, there is considerable consensus regarding the nature of these dysfunctional dispositions. They reliably fall into eleven categories, and they can be assessed with considerable fidelity.
What’s so bad about failure? It could be very lucrative
Dr. Paul Wong, a Clinical Psychologist, took a stab at identifying five aspects of a Toxic Corporate Culture. He wrote an easy-to-read 6 page paper – Lessons from the Enron Debacle: Corporate Culture Matters!
So, take a read
From the paper, here are the five signs of a toxic corporate culture and four signs of health. This is just a summary. Each of the these are treated in more detail in the paper along with background on how Enron conducted business.
Toxic Corporate Cultures
The following corporate cultures are described as toxic because they are dysfunctioning in terms of relationships and adjustment to changing times. They undermine the social/spiritual capital, poison the work climate and contribute to organizational decline.
- Authoritarian-hierarchical culture – The big boss alone makes all the major decisions behind closed doors. Even when the decisions are harmful to the company, no one dares to challenge the boss. The standard mode of operandum is command and control, with no regard to the well being of employees or the future of the company. Hierarchies without accountability tend to have a corrupting influence on ambitious, autocratic leaders. When the boss is dysfunctional and has the power to impose his selfish, irrational decisions on others, the entire company suffers.
- Competing-conflictive culture – There is always some sort of power struggle going on. Leaders are plotting against each other and stabbing each other on the back. Different units and even different individuals within a unit are undercutting, backstabbing each other to gain some competitive advantage. There is a lack of trust and cooperation. People often hide important information from each other and even sabotage each other’s efforts to ensure that only they will come up on top. There is no regard for the larger picture and the overall goal of the company. It is everyman for himself. Both management and workers are obsessed with their own survival and self-interests.
- Laissez faire culture – There is a vacuum at the top, either because the leader is incompetent and ignorant, or because he is too preoccupied with his personal affairs to pay much attention to the company. Consequently, there is an absence of directions, standards and expectations. When there is an absence of effective leadership, each department, in fact, each individual does whatever they want. The leadership void will also tempt ambitious individuals to seize power to benefit themselves. Chaos and confusion are the order of the day. No one has a clear sense where the company is going. Often, employees receive conflicting directions and signals. Often, decisions are made in the morning only to be nullified in the afternoon. Given the lack of direction, oversight and accountability all across-the-board, productivity declines. In this kind of culture, the company either disintegrates or becomes an easy target for a hostile takeover.
- Dishonest-corrupt culture – In this culture, greed is good and money is God. There is little regard for ethics or the law. Such attitudes permeate the whole company from the top down to individual workers. Bribery, cheating, and fraudulent practices are widespread. Creative accounting and misleading profit reports are a matter of routine. Denial, rationalization and reputation management enable them carry on their unethical and often illegal activities until they are caught red-handed or exposed by correcting forces of the market. When management are blinded by greed and ambition, their judgment becomes distorted and their decisions become seriously flawed; as a result, they often cross the line without being aware of it. Enron serves as a good example.
- Rigid-traditional culture – There is a strong resistance to any kind of change. The leadership clings to out-dated methods and traditions, unwilling to adapt to the changes in the market place. They live in past glory and any change poses a threat to their deeply entrenched values and their sense of security. Workers are discouraged or even reprimanded for suggesting innovative ideas.
The five types of toxic cultures are not mutually exclusive. For an example, a corporation may be both authoritarian and traditional. Similarly, a corporation can be both authoritarian and corrupt. When a company suffers from a multiple of diseases, drastic operations are needed to save it from demise. Unfortunately, not many managers are competent in the diagnosis and treatment of toxic corporate cultures.