This review first ran in the Aug. 29 edition of The Hamilton Spectator.
Who’s the boss?
Here’s hoping it’s not you.
We already have boatloads of bosses.
What we need instead are leaders who think, act and talk like insurgent candidates campaigning all out against incumbent politicians.
We need you to bust-up bureaucracy, shake up the status quo and double down on disruption. We need you to call out what’s tried but no longer true in our organizations and remind us that we face the stark choice of change or be changed.
“If you want to become a leader today, whether you are leading a short-term project, a start-up or a global corporation, we already have the theme of your campaign for leadership. The theme will be change,” say Scott Miller and David Morey, authors of The Leadership Campaign.
“If you are not transforming the markets you’re in, then someone else is doing it, and soon you will be playing by their rules.”
Miller and Morey were top-tier political consultants when Steve Jobs came calling in 1984 and asked if they could apply their political campaigning expertise to leadership, marketing and communications in business.
“Disrupting markets. Disrupting the status quo. These are the specialities of the insurgent political leader and the insurgent political campaign. Steven Jobs did not steer us wrong. For over 30 years now, we’ve found that insurgent political model to be as effective in business as it is in politics.”
If you aspire to be an insurgent leader, here’s the seven-question test you need to ace. “These are not seven potential questions,” say Miller and Morey. “They are the seven bet-your-ass-and-career definitions you must control and communicate if you are going to have a shot at a successful campaign.”
- This is who I am. “You must clearly and compellingly define yourself, or others will be happy to the job for you.” And repeat after Miller and Morey. “What can be known will be known. You may think you have one little secret that nobody knows and nobody can possibly know. But somebody, somewhere, somehow knows it or can know it.”
- These are my target voters. Among any group of employees you’ll have hard opposition (they hate you and will never support you), soft opposition (they aren’t fans but their knives aren’t out), undecideds, soft support (they like you but have yet to commit) and hard support (they love you and will do whatever it takes to help you win). Focus on your hard and soft support.
- This is the win, this is success. Tell us what we’re trying to achieve. Define our metrics of success. Give us the number we’re trying to reach. Tell us when we’ll reach it (think of it as our Election Day). How will we feel, think and behave when we win?
- These are the stakes and this is what’s in it for you and us. “All you have to do is find out what your constituents really, really want and figure out how you are going to deliver it to them.”
- Why should I give you money or tie my future success to you? “The primary reason to support you is that you are going to win. You persuade these supporters that you will win big by winning smaller battles along the way.”
- This is the enemy of our mutual win. “What stands between you, your team and victory? What is the obstacle you must go over, under or through? Defining an enemy is key to defining victory.” Chances are, your organization’s enemy is the status quo, bureaucratic red tape and complacency.
- This is the future I want to lead us to. “Define an optimistic and personally appealing future. Give everybody a stake in that future and they’ll move the world to enable you to lead them there.”
Most organizations have a surplus of bosses and a critical shortage of visionary, insurgent leaders, according to Miller and Morey. These boss-heavy organizations are also hamstrung by a lack of focus and urgency – something you won’t find in winning insurgent political campaigns.
“We keep hearing that innovation is the thing that all businesses (and government) need most today. But you never unlock the potential for innovation without great leadership.”
Miller and Morey show how it’s done in a highly recommended manual for insurgent leaders looking to win and hold onto the support of their employees.
Jay Robb serves as director of communications for Mohawk College, has reviewed business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and lives in Hamilton.