Of Titles, Authority and Wasted Effort

President, CEO, Director, VP, Manager.  It has been drilled into society that titles matter, and with titles comes more of everything.  More money, more prestige, and above all more power.  The power to impact, guide, direct, effect and above all make decisions.  As you move up the title chain you somehow become more and more important and above all more valuable – the critical person.

Then comes a blast like the below.  Another of the fine tomes from Finbar Taggit.

Just because someone is a CEO doesn’t mean they have any power or authority. In most cases, the more senior a person’s title is, the less influence they have over making decisions.

I learned this a long time ago. A first year Investment Banker is about 0% productive. After about 3 to 5 years, they are about 80% productive. When they realize meetings and PowerPoint is how you really get ahead, the productivity starts falling and once they reach MD status they spend 20% of their time making money and the other 80% playing politics. That is if they are still working in the industry. CEOs delegate everything to their senior managing directors and lawyers. I mean most of them cannot send emails without compliance signing them off.

And that is one way to look at the benefits of climbing the ladder – more is less.  Though dripping with sarcasm, it was ironic how reading the above did make me pause and smile at memories from both business and the military.  There might be a grain of truth to the above rant in more than just banking.

The real lesson and serious question lies in where any of us might be on that particular productivity curve.  Where are we putting our time?  Are we really doing the right behaviours, the behaviours that are “making money”?  Not just revenue, but are we making others around us better?  Are we making the business better, our friends better, our families better, and most of all are we making ourselves better?  As always, it is about return on investment – are you getting the most from your title and your time.

1 Comment

Filed under leadership

One response to “Of Titles, Authority and Wasted Effort

  1. Ed

    You have really struck at the heart of a real problem. The term perception is reality (a stupid term in my opinion) comes to mind. You hit the nail on the head with this post and I commend you! At the end of the day, it really is about helping others around us to succeed and having some kind of value added from our own efforts! Lean into it!

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