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- BRW. lounge
Published 01 November 2012 04:05, Updated 21 November 2012 06:56
Sometimes it seems a miracle that big companies make any money at all. This is a contention well understood by employees who shake their heads in disbelief when they receive the latest edict from Jackass Central. Decisions and pronouncements that are variously stupid, inane or incomprehensible are made so regularly that it is not always clear that senior management and staff actually work for the same company.
The larger companies become, the greater the certainty that their senior leadership teams become bloated, lazy and disconnected. A company that doggedly pursues an employee for a minor expenses claim will think nothing of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on management consultant reports that never see the light of day, or on expensive training programs that have more to do with compliance or bleeding-heart HR priorities than providing employees with real skills.
Management today is supposed to be a rigorous, exact and quantifiable discipline, requiring a vast range of skills, attributes and sensibilities. The modern executive is ostensibly someone who has stepped straight out of the Harvard Business Review: sharp, visionary, considered, precise and, dare one say it, strategic. In addition, every MBA program developed since the global financial crisis – that landmark of executive hubris and hedonism – stresses that executive capability is no longer about technical skills alone but also ethics, integrity, empathy and decency. When was the last time you met this person?
Over a fortunate career I have been lucky enough to work for remarkable, inspiring and giving leaders. Yes, they really do exist. When you’ve experienced gifted leadership, the prevalence of bad management becomes all the more obvious – and scandalous.
Every day, companies are being ransacked by the naked incompetence, incoherent decision-making and self-important grandstanding of senior managers and executives.
How do these people get their jobs in the first place, let alone keep them? Politics, favouritism and cronyism play their part but in the end, incompetence begets incompetence. If companies spent as much time performance-reviewing, benchmarking and challenging the competence of their senior managers and executives as they do the rest of their employees, then perhaps remarkable leaders would no longer be the memorable exception.