This week we continue the serialization of, How (NOT) to Be a Leader Volume 1, in preparation for the release of the next two books, How (NOT) to Build a Great Team and How (NOT) to Create a Winning Strategy. We hope you will enjoy Chapter 15 – Evil Rules.
Sent: Friday, August 31 at 11:46 pm
From: SVP Sales
Subject: Plan is in motion
The plans are in place and the information I’ve gathered over the last year or so should be helpful to you in the transition. I’m having difficulty with one of the SVPs as she might be getting suspicious, but as we’ve discussed she might be on the chopping block anyway.
I look forward to serving you in any way I can and as I’m sure you have noticed, I’m able to get information for you quite easily. Thanks for your consideration of my expertise and position in the new regime. Congratulations on putting it all together!
Sometimes leading the sheep to slaughter is so easy it’s like taking candy from a baby. There is always a place for treachery, dirty deeds, and just plain evil in the workplace, but as a leader use those tactics if and only if doing so benefits you directly.
Another caution for all of you who think being an evil leader is easy and quick, it’s not. The devil (pun intended) is in the details. Patience is required to be evil properly. You bide your time, lay the trap, and then smile from ear to ear when it catches your intended target.
Of course, if you’re the leader, doing this is not really evil. It’s just good leadership because it accomplishes a goal. Admittedly, it may be completely selfish and narcissistic, but it’s your goal so any means to that end will do. Let’s take our butt‑kissing SVP in the email for example. He was solely responsible for gathering intel on his coworkers while angling for a big promotion. He was evil, but his boss was an evil genius.
Once all the information had been gathered and the traps had been set, the CEO pulled a fast one on her little Judas. She let the SVP know that the one person he really wanted to see fired would be staying on and reporting to him. Naturally, he was pissed, but as a student of the evil tactic, he saw the brilliance of his Machiavellian leader and decided to go with it and live to see another day. The CEO’s move was classic evil—never let your Judas think they have the upper hand because of all the dirty deeds they may have accomplished. Create rivalries among all your evil‑doing subordinates, then watch the magic that happens. You’ll have more information, more competitiveness, and more people kissing your ass than you can shake a finger at. This is evil at its finest hour. Sit back and enjoy the scotch, knowing you won, and you have scapegoats should any blowback come your way.
While patience is required to lead with evil, you also must focus on your purpose. Evil for evil’s sake is just stupid. You must have a purpose, or it will come back at you and ultimately not serve any purpose. Remember, all evil must be in the service of something and for you and you alone. Occasionally, you might engage in evil acts at the behest of others or for their benefit. Be careful in these cases, as you might lose control, and when using evil tactics, control is a necessity. Never leave anything to chance: play out all scenarios and make sure you are the beneficiary of any outcome.
Occasionally, there will be unintended consequences. The key here is to make sure you’ve set yourself up for total deniability and have someone to blame. If you don’t, you’re a weak leader and you have only yourself to blame. Shame on you! Evil is a tool to be used only by the most skilled of leaders. What made you think you were worthy? You don’t get to this level of leadership by being weak. There’s no crying when using evil. If you’re not ready to kill or be killed, this is not a leadership characteristic for you. Go back to leadership daycare.
Let’s Get Real
Evil never wins in the end. You might win a battle or two by being a complete douchebag like the characters in this story, but ultimately you lose as leader. Your team will never respect you; they may fear you, but respect will never come. They’ll make fun of you behind your back, they’ll never tell you the truth, and they won’t help you succeed.
You might be tempted to get even or show up someone who has been particularly evil in the workplace. Resist the temptation. Once you go down that road, your reputation will follow. One wrong act will likely lead to another. Own the first one, apologize, make everyone whole, and don’t do it again. Don’t be an asshole; be fair and be truthful.