Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ben Parker's Law of Corporate Management

"With great power comes great responsibility" defines Ben Parker's last lesson to Spiderman, establishing the moral code and sense of duty with which he would come to accept - and exploit - his superhuman abilities for the greater good. It implies a sense of light and dark, a checks-and-balances system that would temper what set him apart and raised him above humanity, and would restrain him in situations where other restrictions no longer applied. 

In corporate life, however, the two are not in such equal balance. At work, it's safe to say - 
The desire to evade responsibility outweighs the lust to gain power, every time. 
In any situation, the desire to have control, to manage any task, however fun, attractive, interesting, and career-enhancing it might be, always comes with the fine-print examination - if it goes belly-up, what happens to me? The corporate world is then divided into people who read this fine print and who didn't - and the ones who didn't, are the ones standing there when it does go belly-up. And this is at all levels. 

When you set KRAs, accept leadership, take on a profile, keep an eye out for this fine print. Similarly, when you define someone else's role, or need inputs / help / cooperation from anyone else - junior, peer, or senior - make sure this is burned in foot-high letters in your mind. No matter how good the benefits look, if you haven't seen the costs those benefits imply, expect the shine to wear off real fast and foot-dragging at every stage to follow.