Losing The Halo: The Buffet-Sokol Effect!

Warren Buffet reigns as the leader, for nurturing investments and industries. His principles form the ground rule, to most of the managers. Here comes the twist. If that is so, what brings in the Sokol-fiasco?  The case suggests that Buffet was asked to buy Lubrizol Corporation’s shares. Sokol, who had advised him on this, bought shares to this company, early this year. This is registered as a case for an insider trading. Sokol’s resignation seals the prejudice of the best leader. What deepens the hues is the dent free dedication that comes out in the open, as the allegations brew stronger. As reported in The New York Times, ‘Buffett Takes Sharper Tone in Sokol Affair’, nearly a decade back, Sokol had rejected a compensation of 12.5 million and pleaded it for Mid American Energy.

How does this work? Would a manager purposely promote a deputy who becomes the root of outages? The dimension of money, power and fame would vary. The human nature to make hay will remain unchanged. Is it necessary to be swayed by greed? Alternatively would one be a loser, not to make the most of what is being offered?

How would the most revered manager lose his ego? ED Clark says, “If you are good to acknowledge the mistakes that you make and correct them, you are good to lose your ego”. How about it in the following situations?

A team meeting had the technology team and productions battling out who bears the brunt for lower productivity the previous month.  Production wails that the new software for the workforce management derailed the processes. Whereas, the technology leader, alleges the production team, to hide their inefficiencies, in the name of the new software The eternal war continues with higher KPI in the dashboard. Would this be good enough? We can consider a game theory and settle the prisoner’s dilemma of the CEO here. The Nash Equilibrium would be an upgrade of the software, with corrections, implemented in different phases, so as not to affect the production and ensure the software division’s growth. Concurrently, what about the leaders in question, who waged the war in the first place? Will any amount of brain storming ever be good enough to resolve it?

Here’s another everyday situation, a recruitment team gets a sounding from the production leaders for reaching late to a recruitment drive, on a given Sunday. Just as the hiring is going to be closed, the production team changes the specification leaving the recruiters to roll back the offers. Who is supposed to lose whose ego here?

Business world demands accountability with ‘Whom’, ‘What’ and ‘How’. The wisdom to see the long run without being greedy at times, remorse sounds ghastly. Here is some food for thought:

The nozzle to the bottle

  • Light house: See beyond the moment, but acknowledge the emotion. Let’s accept it’s human to lose the sight, once in a while. An opportunity that crops up now is way more important than what could have been, as imagined earlier. Getting carried away in that emotion remains, but obvious.
  • Question and allow others to do so: As a leader, you will always have a strong team of advisers. Sometimes they are way smarter than you. So, do you question others once in a while about the decisions you make? More so, are you open to take questions on your final word?
  • Blind spot: This is that fatal attribute that can sum up as a confidant sometimes as knowledge in any area. Being trigger sure is a recipe for disaster at times.
  • Solution seeker and worry monger: Here lies the Grand Canyon to success. Managers tend to attract a lot of Nay-Sayers. This helps to mitigate risks. However, the problem solvers often get hidden, behind the ‘crying wolf’ squad. Its human to limit belief than to explore strengths. This is a clear sign of  insecurity and hiding behind them to reinstate the ego. Each time you roll a new software for your team or upgrade the KPI in the scorecard, choose not to stop at the ones who cry fowl, but reach out for the ones who can show you how to troubleshoot them.
  • Bull whip effect: A small change in the perception surmounts to a huge change in production. A rejection of 12.5 million as compensation, rather, suggesting it to be reallocated to the ‘second -in-command’ source, contributed to the launch pad for trust.
  • De-coupling point: This is defined as the point in a process, which allows you to create a point of differentiation and customize the result. Suppose, you are rolling out your new broad -banding program. The Consultant you hired had made their presentation, including every point you need. You are all set to announce it, when suddenly your line managers’ point out how it would collapse levels, thereby killing the growth path and goal plans for employees. Will you be able to go back to the process and rethink the broad banding, to include the growth for the employees?
  • Shifting gears from what matters to what will matter in the long run: Staying relevant to the needs are perpetual. What would change in the long run, are their connotation. It can be through manipulated ways such as insider trading or even as far as a performance appraisal.  When you first decided on the goal sheet for your team, you were clueless that the project would return half way, and the team members would be resourced to the talent pool. You would want to stay relevant during the appraisal interview that you take with your team? How agile would you stand for it?
  • Opening up to serendipity: Business requires you to mitigate risks. When you employ all the decision making tools, are you sure, you are not losing out on the information, on the go? How about the information which is readily available to the grass root level employees, but the C-suite remains in the dark? Remaining humble to pick the information sensitive enough to affect the decision making is the ultimate step to lose your ego.

Pride goes before a fall, lest you pay for it. The managers are liable for every delivery. Whether it’s a budget and work allocation, to ensure the completion of tasks or any other responsibility. It all boils down to achieve the organization’s goal. This binds the perception and realities of success. Losing an ego is parallel to every pre-mammoth task. Hence, it remains in the realm of ‘easier said than done’. The point to ponder is, do you wait for an emergency to teach you?Alternatively, have you made it a part of your natural process? Tell us, we are listening!

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