Monday, February 16, 2009

Is There a "You" in Sea Gull?

I was once hired by an agency CEO to interview all members of the firm (there were about 12 or so) to get a sense of what the firm was doing right and wrong.

As part of the audit, the CEO wanted to know what the staff thought of him and how he ran the firm.
I don’t remember all the comments but it was a pretty dreadful report. One comment did stick in my mind, though. “Our CEO is like a sea gull,” one person said. “He swoops in, shits all over us, and then flies away leaving us to clean up the mess.”

I never forgot that comment and have talked about sea gulls with several client CEOs. "Sea gullian" behavior is destructive and non-productive. It turns off the staff, rarely creates positive learning and often the end product is flawed because the staffer has little clue to what the sea gull wants him or her to do.

I know one CEO who put up a picture of a sea gull on her computer as a reminder of what not to do. Whatever works.

Are there any sea gulls in your firm? Are you a sea gull?


Michael said...

Read column today. Must have been Bob Cohn.

Elizabeth Bridgers said...

I am striving to stay away from Mike's lighting bolt. . . Thanks for the memorable story. As a manager, it's a good reminder for me to (1) be involved and present throughout projects with subordinates, rather than "swooping in," and (2) to make sure the team thinks they're flying with you, not standing on the ground immobilized!