I had lunch with some senior leaders of a large company, one we all know well. A company that’s run by people with just enough hubris to not realize they’re going to be out of work, one way or another, in the next 12 months (at most).
Why? Not because they’re not smart or talented or charismatic. The fact that they’re all 3 of those things, not to mention arrogant, is probably why they’ve gotten this far to begin with.
You know what, at this point in my life I can live with the arrogance, I expect it from a certain breed of corporate exec. (Plus, they paid for lunch!)
What bothers me is their certitude. The fact that — in the midst of the most complicated media landscape in the history of time — they’ve decided they know where everything’s headed. Despite the likelihood (in my estimation) that they’re wrong, they’re so absolutely sure, they end enquiry and charge forth to the land of milk and honey.
You’d think with decades under our fancy belts we’d have most of the answers to the challenges of the universe by now.
Turns out, we don’t. Not even close.
In fact, those of us who know what we’re talking about know that we’re lucky if we wake up in the morning and remember what we don’t know. Even luckier if we find ways to succeed, as we spend our time trying to figure it all out with other smart and creative people who also know they don’t have all the answers.
Leaders like the guys I had lunch with are so driven by their own conviction that they’ll lead armies of hundreds or thousands to the farthest shore — to drown. Like lemmings:
Here’s the sad thing about lemmings: Even after leading the masses on a devout journey to certain death…some inevitably survive. Only to live on and lead more and more lemmings to their doom.
Make sure you don’t work for a lemming.