We’ll be brief.

Two thumpingly different examples of leadership behavior crossed my desk in the past 24 hours, one unforgettable in its inspirational caliber and the other equally memorable, but for the “frogmarch-that-person-to-the-door” response it called forth.

The inspiring custom first, the slack-jawed doozy second.

  • An occupational  hazard of leadership is being consumed by minutiae and the always-peremptory “incoming” to the exclusion of the organization’s larger vision and purpose.  The UK’s National Gallery adopted a beautiful approach to this challenge: Every Board meeting opens with a presentation by a curator of a favorite work of art in the collection.  “Remember why we’re here and what we’re about” is of course the message. Presumably (hopefully!) your firm invests less in art than The National Gallery, but use your imagination.  “Why are we here?”[This example came by way of the Leading Professional People podcast series from the gifted Prof. Laura Empson of Cass Business School, University of London, and the super-self-effacing David Morley, former global Chair of Allen & Overy, both {disclosure} friends.]

In the rogue’s corner we have the following “out of office” autoreply coming from the CEO of a less august but centuries-old New York City nonprofit. The subject line was “On sabbatical till November 1.”

I am away on sabbatical, and my inbox will not be receiving messages while I am away. Your email, I regret to say, will be deleted on arrival.   Please reach out to [others] with any questions or concerns.

Enlightening or explanatory comment on this is beyond me,

But if you can top the distilled essence of hostility, dismissiveness, and entitlement packed into those three words–“deleted on arrival”–you deserve a creative writing award.

And good luck with your leadership challenges, one and all.




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