Thursday, September 23, 2010

Clipboards in Power Positions: The Should Do's

As we have explained many times in this blog, clipboard people are a unique and valuable breed of employee in any organization. The ideal clipboard person is dedicated to their job, wants to be part of a team and gains high satisfaction from making other people feel successful. They are the ideal behind the scenes player and are happiest when they are given tons of structure, clear to-do lists and hundreds of tasks to get done that take under 1/2 hour. At this, they excel. Without clipboard people, not a lot would get done. No one would validate data, or schedule releases, or organize conference events or launch products. They are the oarsmen, the people without whom the mindless, difficult, repetitive tasks that keep the machine running would not get done.

Clipboards in leadership positions are, however, a nightmare. Without the structure they need and the ready made to-do lists, they become bereft and wander aimlessly searching for someone who can write that to-do list for them. Their fear of missing something (a key clipboard asset) morphs into a need for excessive stakeholdering to get anything done so they can be certain nothing gets lost. Their satisfaction in task completion turns into frustration as they find that bigger tasks are more complex and require political skill, negotiation and many other piece parts that can't be written out in advance. Most annoyingly (for me at least) their need for structure becomes a series of codes, rules, "should-do"s and other behavioral norms that they insist must be followed in order to preserve the sanctity of the situation. Yes, I use the word sanctity because for a clipboard, order is akin to godliness. And the excessive formality leads them to lose out, because they are busy following rules of engagement that their less process bound brethren don't really need to follow.

I'm just saying.

1 comment:

Lilac - Like The Flower said...

See, I think this happens when a clipboard doesn't admit to being a clipboard. no true clipboard WANTS to be in a leadership position that isn't roughly "King of the clipboards!". I haven never seen one express the desire to be head-of-strategy. So, how'd they get there? To their own selves, they were not true.