Monday, May 4, 2009

Leaders, Experts and Running Dogs

In a large company, there are three eminent ways to position yourself: leader, expert or running dog. And there are other 80% of people who positioned themselves some where in between, they can be put in any position, moved around, sent to any location and laid off, when necessary.

: one who influences a group of people towards the achievement of a goal.
Advantages: Leaders live up their dreams, they create constantly gaps between themselves and their followers. They are innovative, positive, full of energy. They drive themselves, others and the company to some places where they never have been before.
Risks: Some times they can drive other people crazy and themselves to get a heart attack. Another risk is described by a Chinese proverb: we can not have two tigers on one mountain. I have seen again and again: a new leader stepped in and the old one have to leave. As a leader, you often have to be prepared for new challenges.

Definition: one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject (Merriam Webster Online)
Advantages: who ever the leader is in a group, experts always have the save harbor, because all leaders need people to work, to produce results, to develop products, to create marketing materials, to sell and to deliver. And experts do not form any threats to a leader. They have no chance or ambition to replace the leader.
Risks: When market or technology shift, expertise can become obsolete. So open your eyes and mind and continuously renew and improve your expert areas.

Running dogs:
Definition: one who blindly follows someone else's orders (Merriam Webster Online)
Advantages: Running dogs are much better off than their reputation. As long as the leader is in charge, running dogs are more than save. Since they usually do not have strong characteristics, they are protected by the leaders. Running dogs have usually high level of skills. They are generalists who can do any type of works pretty well.
Risks: When the leader leaves, running dogs are likely to lose their jobs, since they did not develop skills to survive without the leader. And some times they have opportunity to be promoted, when their leader step up. In this case, there is a chance of failure, since they never know how to lead and drive others.

How are you positioned in your company, a leader, an expert or a running dog? Or some where in between? Do you want to change your positioning or do to want to strengthen your positioning? See also Your Value as Expatriate.

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