1997 - Kings bearing mission statements –
Balthasar checked the astrologers'
notes and looked through his telescope. There
was no mistaking the sign; a publisher's contract
if ever he'd seen one. His work was complete.
He suspected he could improve on the title, Exemplary
Leadership , but there would be plenty of time
on the way.
Melchior was saddling his camel.
He felt more confident about the heading for his
own book, The Soul of Management , blending empathy
with social responsibility. Caspar, meanwhile,
was struggling for inspiration. Concepts of Empowerment
for the First Millennium was a bit of a mouthful.
The three gurus made their way
to Jerusalem following not one star, but the seven
stars of superior performance - status, sacrifice,
synergy, selflessness, self-confidence, self-discipline
and self-awareness laid down by Balthasar in his
best-selling work, In Search of Alliteration .
"Hyphens are cheating," said Caspar.
"That way you could get 20 or 30 really good
qualities without trying. Anybody could do that."
"That's my next book, In
Search of Self-management ," said Balthasar.
"It outlines the 30 characteristics of self."
"Too many," said Caspar
who preferred to use boxes, curly arrows and inverted
pyramids in his work while Melchior was wedded
to his Mastering Messiah Matrix and the strategy
trees he described in The Empty Tunic .
Their consultation with Herod
did not go well. He declined a suggestion of a
360 degree appraisal. As a non-executive appointment
from Rome, he was concerned that his position
might be vulnerable to institutional pressures.
He was, however, attracted to
their description of re-engineering and ordered
an immediate, if drastic, downsizing programme
involving all males under the age of two. "It's
a form of succession planning," he cried
as he watched the sages depart in the direction
of Bethlehem. And so it came to pass that the
three wise men arrived at the manger and beheld
the newborn baby.
"What he needs is a mission
statement that outlines a sense of vision,"
said Balthasar who held that strategic vision,
shared values and a focus on creative culture
were the three essentials of organisational leadership.
"He also needs a decent office," he
said, looking around at the hay-strewn stalls
with donkey, sheep and lowing cattle.
Melchior disagreed. "This
is the virtual Messiah. He doesn't need offices,
company camels or grand titles. His organisational
structure will demand that you take up your bed
and walk to the next assignment. I call it hot
The three men consulted on the
mission and tossed around a few ideas such as:
to create a new religion or to do great deeds
but they settled on: to be the best. "We
can develop it later," said Melchior. "The
most important thing about the mission statement
is the process you go through in arriving at a
suitable form of words. The idea is to distill
your aims and values, allowing you to focus on
a growth strategy built around a clear goal."
"We shall also need a competency
framework if we are to establish training and
development inputs supported by internal mentoring
"Shouldn't we leave that
to the parents?" asked Caspar.
Balthasar, "But this boy will be on a fast
track, moving through a series of projects. He's
going to need early international experience -
Egypt should do. Is the flight booked? And there
will need to be some form of benchmarking."
The gurus trawled their databases
for the best people in their respective fields.
They listed Moses, Elijah, David and John the
Baptist against a table of hard and soft measures
of achievement - miracles, parables, raising the
dead, feet washing, transmogrification.
"What about generalship?"
The gurus pondered the question.
Generalship could be a problem, considering the
successes of Alexander the Great, Hannibal and
Julius Caesar. "Don't forget Sun Tzu,"
said Caspar. "I've done a book about him."
"We all have," said
"The question is, just what
kind of leader are we looking for - the old style
command and control type or someone who has more
of an enabling approach?" said Balthasar.
"We must concentrate on core competencies.
This man is going to need good inter-personal
skills if he's going to get people to buy into
a global change programme."
"Have you thought about
a shepherd?" said a voice from the back of
the manager. The Three Wise Men could just make
out a figure in the light of the glory that was
shining all around. It was a shepherd. "We
were out watching our flocks by night when an
angel of the Lord came down and told us not to
be afraid but to come over here where we would
meet the new Messiah. It seems to me that a shepherd
would make a fitting role model," he said.
"He has a point," said
Melchior, mentally constructing a new chapter
in his book he would call "shepherding your
employees towards outstanding shareholder value".
He liked the flock metaphor.
"The problem with the shepherd,"
said Balthasar, "Is that it would mean the
end of smiting down." They shuffled uneasily.
Smiting down had been an effective way of achieving
an immediate improvement on the bottom line.
"I always thought that smiting
was a short-termist solution. It's time we ended
begatting and the rest of the Old Testament jargon.
The emerging language of people management could
draw on farming terminology. The new leaders will
be shepherds and fishers of men," said Melchior.
"So the defining source
of competitive advantage for the Messiah will
be the way he treats his people. Communications
and people skills are essential. He has to be
able to deliver a sermon to 5,000 if necessary.
"This man can cut through
the hierarchical structure if he builds himself
a great team. He will have the ability to re-invent
himself. He's not going to need IIP (Investors
in Pharisees) status. But he will need a workable
recruitment policy, supported possibly by a battery
of tests and action learning. I think it more
important he goes for the right kind of fit -
fishermen, shepherds farming types, practical
"Like us," said Caspar.
He did not notice the uncontrolled
burst of mirth from the shepherds. "We haven't
yet discussed reward strategy," he said.
"I think it should be based on defined performance
measures. But how do we judge? Numbers of converts,
good deeds, miracles, lives saved? What about
bonus and should we put in place a long-term incentive
scheme to align his aims more closely with those
of his stakeholders."
"I don't think that will
be necessary," said the shepherd. "But
he could use your gold, frankincense and myrrh."
And so it was that the gurus left their gifts
and outlined a modest out- placement package to
deal with the Herod restructuring. The case study
was related later in what would become the bestselling
management guide in history. But they didn't write
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