October 1, 2006

Be the Big Dog

What do you think of when you see a senior politician show up for work on a bicycle?...or read of a business executive stubbornly refusing to own a mobile phone or computer? The temptation is to laugh. I think of the time when I was promoted into the executive ranks of a large company. I received advice from a mentor. She said - "You are the big dog now...act like it."

She wasn't suggesting the employment of bullying tactics in my newly minted status. My wise mentor was suggesting that we expect that the person in charge to do just that - be in charge...not wishy-washy, not absentee, but visible and able to make decisions and stand by them. This continues to be excellent advice. But I'd like to suggest that these days the Big Dog is a person that's fair, competent, ethical, stays connected to our efforts and get things done. It's not enough to just be seen to be in charge.

For example in today's
New York Times there is an article about the scandal at H.P. (spying on reporters,etc...). What caught my attention is when the reporter says -

"Mr. Hurd (DD - H.P.'s current CEO/Chairman) has said that he did not want his photograph hanging in the lobby of the company headquarters near those of the company founders William R. Hewlett and David Packard.
Mr. Hurd’s decision not to memorialize himself next to the famous founders is often cited by Hewlett-Packard and others as an example of his modesty. It is also no accident that the anecdote offers a contrast between Mr. Hurd and his predecessor as chief executive, Carelton Fiorina who made sure that her picture was hung in the corporate lobby next to the founders."

In my opinion Mark Hurd is being the Big Dog by differentiating himself and setting a new bar. More leaders should be like him.

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