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Leadership and Sharks

Posted on Monday, 1st August 2011 @ 01:03 AM by Text Size A | A | A

Part One:
Leadership: Operation Sharks’ Teeth

Recently I took off a couple of days to meander on Edisto beach in South Carolina. Walking the beach, smelling the salt air, feeling the warm, damp sand between my tired toes and communing with the sea critters is high on my most do list when I have the time and proximity. This visit was no different than so many times in the past—until– I walked the sand with a prematurely wise seven year old –Bayleigh.
I thought (obviously deluded,) that I was relaxing, chilling, at one with the nature. I found that I was still oh, so focused. I have been known to immerse myself in the challenge of searching out the few, very few sharks teeth sprinkled teasingly in the sand. I was sucked in when I just happened, as I was meandering, to see a shark’s tooth winking up at me from its home among an infinite number of broken shells. That was it, folks! I spent much of my remaining “recreation” time completely dedicated to the challenge of the hunt.
Tranquil Bayleigh accompanied me on some of my jaunts in search of the ever elusive fossils. As I remained feverously focused, Bayleigh brought her sea treasures to me to admire. “Yes, Bayleigh, your shell has a face—mouth, nose and eyes—very interesting.” “Yes, this broken shell is smooth and shiny and it has a pretty lavender color, good job, Bayleigh.” “Absolutely, Bayleigh, your shell has a hole in it and we could make a cool necklace.” When Bayleigh wasn’t firmly entreating my attention to her latest prize I remained deadly focused—Operation Sharks Teeth.
I See the Light
After an hour or so of these mild slaps in the face—it hit me! Suddenly, I was slammed by an epiphany—I have an inclination to “see” only that which I seek and to firmly disregard everything that does not fit my criteria.
As a leader, I am well aware that my desire for perfection, my idiosyncratic idea of perfection, is not beneficial. I was stunned (again) to realize that other leaders are also afflicted by the same malady. Through to my relief, I decided that I wasn’t as severely afflicted as many leaders I know. There is a certain comfort in knowing one is not alone in a failing–and is not the worst offender.
I wonder, and perhaps you do also, do we focus so much on the “ideal” employee that we are blind to the significant contributions made by other personality types? Is it possible that leaders are unseeing of anything that does not fit the current corporate model? What particularly concerns me is the prevalent corporate criteria for the golden, anointed applicant—especially for positions of leadership. If you look at the enthusiastically sought after traits carefully you may notice a striking similarity to the criteria for psychopath and the narcissist.
Perhaps, we should spend more time seeking shells. Balancing the budget certainly doesn’t seem to be within our ability.
Part Two
Next time let’s examine the ideal corporate employee, according to current literature. Also, let’s look at the criteria for psychopath and narcissist. Who knows, we might find something quite interesting—and scary.

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