A Passage from Felix

“If you own a company and that company’s purpose is to make you wealthy, you will be content, delighted even, for any amount of glory to go to anyone who works there, providing you get the money. It is in your best interests to delegate whenever it makes sense in such circumstances.

If you do not own the company, or a part of it, then it is possible you are only a senior manager because you like power. It is not true of everyone, of course. But often enough. You like bossing people about. You enjoy telling them what to do. If that is the case, then you might be understandably reluctant to delegate real power or opportunity, in case the person you delegate to proceeds to excel. This, in turn, may well demonstrate to the rest of the company what a ho-hum manager you really are.  This is a warped way of thinking. But I am convinced it lies behind much of the reluctance to delegate I have encountered in my business life. I used to be surprised at the reluctance of others, both in and out of my own companies, to delegate. Now I’m not.

Bossy people and glory hounds are mostly interested in building a power base so they can have yet more people to boss about. It’s pitiful and a tittle sad, but we have all seen it. We saw it in school. We saw it in the playground. We saw it in college. And we saw it in our first job. If you are observant, you have been seeing it nearly all your life.

Such bullies and toads appear to cover the earth. They often gravitate towards jobs that give the appearance of power but which require low(ish) skill levels – security companies, the prison service, immigration and customs, minor civil service roles, non-commissioned officers in the armed forces, and so on. I am not suggesting that these organizations are made up solely of such creatures; but who would disagree that they have more than their fair share of them? This is fine, because they are easy to spot in such roles, and they have to work somewhere. They are mostly an obnoxious nuisance. But cleverer specimens are also probably working right next door to you today. The truly evil ones, through a combination of fawning, flattery, smoke, mirrors and luck (and occasionally, even talent), have risen to the middle ranks and have people reporting directly to them.

This type of managerial toad will often talk about training and delegation in sepulchral tones, but then, as the old proverb tells us, ‘the Devil can quote scripture for his own purpose’. Such toads know they are unlikely to rise further, but take pleasure in ensuring that you won’t, either.

When they do delegate, they enjoy delegating tasks they believe are either impossible or beyond the recipient’s ability to complete satisfactorily. How do you counter this idiocy? You don’t – unless you own the company, in which case you fire them. I have fired a few. It was the only time I enjoyed firing anyone.  You can’t deal with bossy, puffed-up sods who won’t train you and won’t delegate. You can only move departments or change your place of work. It isn’t worth the time to do anything else. The whole point about getting rich is not to have to deal with this nonsense. Office politics can be fun, as can all forms of politics, but to many people they are upsetting. They reduce productivity and dent morale. They can take up astonishing amounts of time. They increase the number of ‘sick days’ in a department – which is often a good indication that a toad is in charge and needs to be winkled out of its hole.”

-Felix Dennis


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