Thursday, March 15, 2001

No more Mr. Nice Guy:

"Nice guys finish last."
--Leo "The Lip" Durocher (actually a misquote, but too good to pass up)

Sometimes you have to be a bastard.

Most of us like to believe that virtue is its own reward, that the good guys will beat the bad guys, and that things will turn out fine in the end. Guess what? We're wrong.

That may work for the Disney Channel, but it doesn't work for business. Business is war. Sportsmanship doesn't count. If your opponent trips, don't help him up--kick him while he's down and cut his throat.

The great Michael Jordan understood this. Michael was the greatest basketball player of all time, due in no little fact that he was one of the meanest basketball players of all time. Former Bull Scott Burrell was once asked why he was running hours of drills. "Because Michael said that he'd beat me up if I didn't." When asked why he, a grown 220-pound elite athlete, feared such tired braggadocio, he replied, "Because he's Michael Jordan, and I believed him."

But being a bastard to your competitors is fairly intuitive. What made Jordan great was his willingness to terrorize his own teammates--when the occasion called for it.

I'm not recommending the yelling and screaming, Bobby Knight approach to management. What I am recommending is having the balls to make unpopular decisions and force them through.

It's a given that your employees aren't always going to agree with what you do. If they did, you could simply replace them with robots. However, when you've made a decision, they must swallow their dissent and comply. And if they don't, you have to punish them or even fire them.

It's easy to be a nice guy. Spending money is easy. Delaying product launches is easy. But so is going out of business.

Note: Because I am traveling to Las Vegas for a bachelor party, I will not be publishing on Friday, March 16. Fear not, loyal reader, I will be back on Monday.


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