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Symbolic, Inflated Titles & Egos

Yesterday, I wrote about the madness of hierarchies and how the endless list of titles has led to a lack of decision-making, innovation, and movement. These fancy titles everyone is after are symbolic most of the time.

Leaders often complain that they don't have enough freedom to do what they need to do. Their hands are tied, their titles don't hold weight when it comes to decision-making, and many times they're just symbolic. They are like the royal family with the greatest titles but no power to interfere only to be seen.

I have spoken to CEOs who are brushed aside by the owner and the executive board when they ask their employees to be paid the annual bonus. I know VPs who cannot make decisions about how to train their employees. I spoke to CHROs who said "That's beyond me" when I talked to them about implementing the Employee Experience concept for their people within the organisation. I know an entire executive team who is ready, willing, and eager to help the owner turn the company around financially and reputation-wise but the owner took all their decision-making power away so they sit idly doing nothing. They need approval for everything but the owner is putting everything on hold passively waiting for the company to die eventually. 

I also know senior leaders who could make decisions but they won't because they are too scared of making a mistake and losing their job over it. My message to this type is; don't be a leader. Leadership is risky and if you are risk averse you are in the wrong role. Carlson Tucker said something this month at the World Government Summit in Dubai when he was asked why he didn't hold Putin responsible for the killing of individuals (he mentioned names but I forgot). His answer won't leave my mind and while at first I was like "What???" the more I think about it the more I tend to agree with it. He said that; killing people is part of leadership. BOOMMM Isn't he right? Just look around and back in history and it is not different in organisations. Leaders who succeed are not scared of taking actions they think are necessary. When you come between their goals they will deal with you. That is a sign of a successful leader and somehow we translated it as toxic leadership. However, the way they go about it is what makes the difference. They have their eyes on the goal and aren't scared of telling their people "I am going there and if you want to join me great. If you don't, we will have to say goodbye because I will not let anybody stop me from getting there." These are the leaders who achieve not the Senior HR VP who says "I am quietly influencing". Oh Peter, if that's all you can do go and be a supervisor. They are the ones who are quietly supervising. Senior VPs supposed to make decisions based on their goals and fight (loudly) for it. But you chose peace and your paycheque over doing the right thing. 

So here we are, nobody is making decisions despite all those layers and senior roles that aim to facilitate fast decision-making and the flow of information. We have none of it. There are two options: we either let people do the jobs they are paid for or eliminate all these fancy inflated titles with no power. Otherwise, all they are is a cost on the P&L. You do not need an HR VP who is crying over not being able to make people-related decisions. Fire him today! You don't need a senior HR person to manage supervisory-level decisions.

Organisations are bonkers and sometimes I enjoy watching them fail and just say "I told you so." If they cannot see the stupidity in their actions what they deserve is failing. That's it. Let people do the job they are hired for. If they fail, deal with them but don't treat them like crap by restricting them. What's the point of having them? 

PS: I cannot reconcile the idea of having a title that has no real power and being super proud of it to a degree that it inflates people's egos. I just have to laugh at times. 

Exciting news! My second book, "Blind Leading the Disengaged - From Kindergarten to Employee Experience," is dropping in April! It's a treasure trove of solutions and cool ideas to shake up your people management game. But before we get there, let's chat about where we're at now—The Corporate Kindergarten, as I spilt the beans in my first book. Check it out, and let's transform your workplace from a daycare to an awesome employee experience hub!:

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