Don’t Clone Yourself

A boss of mine early on in my career had a tough, almost bulldog, style. He was a pragmatic, no nonsense guy. He didn’t have a wide vocabulary and didn’t spend a lot of time talking about concepts. He was super loyal to the company and even more so to the branch of which he was a part. In short, he was the antithesis of yours truly.

I never understood why he hired me, with my Masters degree in HR Management and my parallel interest in the bigger picture and broader developments in the field.

So, one day I dropped my self into a chair in his office and asked him.

“Ray, I’ve always been curious about something. Why did you decide to hire me? We think so differently. You see things in more black and white terms. You act decisively and you are not at all intimidated by conflict. I see everything in shades of grey. I’m tentative and want more time to analyze an opportunity before moving on it. And I approach conflict reluctantly, at best.”

 

He looked at me with a wry smile and said, “There’s your answer, Ian. I don’t want another me. I need the different perspective you bring.” As a penny dropped in my brain, I could feel the greening of Ian happening in real time. His was not a revolutionary strategy by any means, but it was new to me. I also learned that this relatively rough hewn man carried a lot of wisdom inside him.

There is a great line in the wonderful new book, Being the Boss. “You want someone who fits in–whose basic values and interest mirror the team’s–but not someone who simply blends in.” Ray and I were in accord and shared the same values regarding our function (HR), how you deliver the service professionally, and how HR contributes to the success of the business. In that sense, I “fitted in” to his unit team.

But I did not blend in like a clone of Ray would. And, although I recall that he was frequently impatient with my different perspective and approach to the work, he genuinely valued what I brought to the team and to him personally. You know, we were stronger because of it.

© 2011 – 2016, Ian Cook. All rights reserved.

Ian Cook About Ian Cook

Ian Cook, presenter and consultant, works with managers who want to increase their effectiveness as a leader and build a stronger team. To book Ian for a training seminar, team facilitation or keynote presentation, call toll-free at: 1-888-FULCRUM (385-2786) or e-mail: ian@888fulcrum.com. For more articles and book reviews of interest to managers please go to: www.888fulcrum.com.