I have been blessed with the opportunity to learn from some of the best and some of the worst, yes the worst. The latter I have took on as mentors, role models, and coaches - on what to steer clear of and keep away from.
This is about those who have the formidable knack to “bring a room down” - who are built and trained to focus their entirety on the malfunctioning 5%. Drawn to magnify fault-lines in people and find a tragedy in every triumph – what a Millennial or a Gen Z would call for a Buzzkill – a Downer.
Not to be confused with perfectionists –
Now friends, if you are in doubt you might be one, have worked or currently working with one, here is a definition and some symptoms for you to assess and reflect upon.
A B5, (Short for: an official who is wired to bring the malfunctioning 5 percent to the forefront of all discussions type-of-person) would be typically defined as:
A rear mirror: spots events and trends once they have passed – can’t impact the future, impossible to change the past - might be able to write historical journals, but doesn't possess the outlook to lead.
A whip: leads by fear, uncertainty and doubt. Filled with fear and consumed by negative energy, his obsession stains his perspective and attitude.
An inverted funnel: controls all outward communications and relationships. Manages the perception of his persona very tightly – deeply defined by his quest of the bottom, can’t reconcile with the fact that revealing vulnerabilities is actually a strength.
A microscope. Focuses on the current, the immediate and the urgent. incapable of inspiring teams to a daring goal.
A hibernator: Confines to the comfort of his habitat. Rarely seen charging and leading from the front.
A chameleon: changes color, sheds skins - regularly changes teams and opinions about team members; A mechanism to overcompensate his lack of ability to make meaningful change.
I have thoroughly observed and examined B5s in action. They are one dimensional in their thinking and in their communication style; they speak exclusively from the mind.
The mind is a wonderful and powerful thing, on its own however, is a brut and unsympathetic weapon. (More about leading from both the mind and the heart in future posts).
Do not get trapped. Don’t fall into the temptation of leading by intimidation; leadership is far from surmounting a mountain of people’s failures. Don't turn into a corporate bully.
In a response to B5s, I say we should be Top 95 type of leaders.
I systematically yet compassionately managed out 10% of the population of all businesses I led. I fundamentally believe you can only build the best teams by rigorously managing your bottom players out. It is also the best way of attracting the best ones in.
I equally focused on businesses that have performance challenges. I zoomed-in, surgically intervened, restructured, turned-around, and directed teams to achieve transformational results.
We should do that while we continue to be a Top 95 type of leaders.
We should continuously see and bring the best in our people and teams. We must celebrate what they bring to the game everyday.
We should praise success and celebrate triumphs - generate awash of contagious positive energy that can move people and engage their emotions.
There is a healthy schizophrenia and leadership mandate in doing both.
You know what - if you have to pick - I say screw the 5% that is not working - let us create a whole new 95 by sheer positive momentum and get our teams subscribed to a bigger cause than draining their souls on petty improvements.