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The Anti-Leader Interview

I just read the most fantastic article online in The New York Times—“Erika Nardini on the Value of Leading ’10 Percent’ Players”. By Adam Bryant, July 14, 2017. It is an interview of Erika Nardini, CEO of Barstool Sports. I recommend the article as a superb example of what not to do as an effective leader.

The intent of the article is to highlight her recognition that those who find themselves in what she views as “10 percent players,” one can only surmise she means those who are somewhat less than those considered “90 percent players, also have value. With good leadership, they become stellar contributors.

I applaud that thought. It is recognition that everyone in the organization deserves good leadership.

What then is the great example of what not to do?

Ms. Nardini points out in the interview that she is “punishing.” She goes on to say she will push and push until her employees are exhausted.

As the CEO, Ms. Nardini actively participates in the hiring process, a commendable action. However, she goes on to point out how she is impatient with the hiring process and the need to spend a lot of time with that person. Incredibly, she texts the candidate at 9 p.m. or 11 a.m. on a Saturday “just to see how fast you’ll respond.” She expects a response within three hours.

Although the article was intended to paint a thoughtful and tough CEO, it paints a picture of a CEO who falls short in fundamental leadership skill and acumen.

One of the greatest leadership principles is to know your people and care for their welfare. People, your employees, are an organization’s greatest asset. Push them to exhaustion, and risk mistakes—tired men and women make mistakes.

When your team knows the boss cares about them, they will produce miracles and on a consistent basis. Expecting responses during the hours of traditional family time and personal life within three hours indicates the only thing that matters is the organization. This is a poor test of dedication. Rather, It is an act of insensitive leadership.

No one drives people harder than the Marine Corps. The Marines have never been accused of being soft, yet No organization has leaders who care more about the well being of its people like the Marines. I hope most of you who are reading this article know your employees and care about their welfare.

Read the NY Times article. It is instructive.