Friday, July 15, 2011

Modeling The Masters

Dee Hock is the founder and former CEO of VISA and I came across his story and the term "Modeling The Masters" in the article,  How to Hire, Be a Leader, and Empty Your Mind Like Dee Hock.

Dee Hock walked away from three separate jobs at respected financial companies because he thought they were too hierarchical and controlling which limited his creativity.  Hock went looking for an opportunity to build a different type of organization, one that valued the creativity and enthusiasm of its employees.

Now, most of us will never have an opportunity to create an organization the size or scope of VISA, nor will we ever have the vision that Dee Hock had, but we can learn from his example, we can practice "modeling the masters" in our own companies, organizations, and personal lives, by taking the following action:

Action Item #1: Hire People Different From You

If you believe that you have a great company, organization, and or if you truly believe that you are a great manager or leader then why would hiring people who are different than you, people who are over qualified be so threatening?  If your company is growing then wouldn't you want the most over qualified candidate you could find:  Why hire someone who is 'qualified' today when they will must likely be unqualified in a year or two.  If you are very good at what you do then how could someone who is also good, or different, threaten you?  Wouldn't they challenge you to be even better?  

When you look at a job description you see tasks, machines do tasks and tasks are teachable.  When building a team remember that bringing in someone who is a perfect fit does nothing to improve the overall ability of the team; seek out the candidate who is over qualified, seek out the candidate that brings a different experience and or perspective to you and your organization. 

Most small businesses fail because hiring decisions are made the wrong way and or for the wrong reasons. 

Action Item #2: Be A Leader

Have you ever looked at an organizational chart and realized that authority flows from the bottom up?  Or to quote Dee Hock,
"If you don't understand that you work for your mislabelled 'subordinates,' then you know nothing of leadership. You know only tyranny."

  I realized over my career I spent over 75% of my time managing myself and my superiors and the balance was spent managing those who reported to me. Leadership is not a position but rather a perspective; the  perspective of those who report to you, or as Dee Hock said,
"As soon as you start building a team they're going to start looking to you as their leader. They'll not only look at what decisions you make but also the process you go through to make those decisions. They're going to want to see someone who they respect and can learn from."
As frightening as it may seem, if your team cannot accomplish its purpose without you, then you are not a leader; you are nothing more than a cog, a cog in the wheel, an employee.  You cannot lead if you find yourself always focused on what those behind you are doing and or wether they are following.  

Action Item #3: Empty Your Mind

If you find yourself overloaded, unable to focus, doing too much, then you have obviously hired people just like yourself and you are not a leader.  If you are busy fighting fires, or overwhelmed with day to day issues  then you will never have the chance to empty your mind to focus on the big picture and where your business and or organization is going.  Creative ideas can't be forced and if you want more of them then you'll need to free up your mental energy so you can focus.

If you find yourself so tied down with the present then what future are you going to have?  Putting out fires is what leaders do, but if they do so constantly, then they are going to be totally caught by surprise by the train heading directly at them.  To be successful in a company, with a business, or an organization, you should be able to look at someone who works for you and say, "Your the boss, tell me what you need from me...."

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