Don’t Be Your Own Hatchet Man: Let Someone Else Do The Dirty Work, Deliver The Bad News
There’s an old saying that if you find a well-run, profitable business, you can be sure that somewhere near the top of that organization is a powerful SOB who doesn’t mind saying No. The SOB who says No–the “hatchet man”–usually is not numero uno. There’s a reason, as we shall see.
Sometimes it’s called the good cop, bad cop routine. Somebody besides the President does the firings, says no. Lincoln had Stanton, Eisenhower had Nixon, and Reagan had Regan. The process is cynical, to be sure, but it serves an important function.
Harvey MacKay, in the best-seller “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive,” explains what that function is :
“You have to get someone who can make the tough, mean, unpopular decisions — and can take the fall when they get too tough, mean and unpopular. If you’re out there serving on community boards, making new business presentations, being quoted in the paper on the future of the widget industry, you don’t want to be known around town as the guy who lays off employees at Christmas, dislikes labor unions, and shortens the coffee breaks. Your public performance won’t fly if you are the one who has to crack the whip at home.”
This is an excerpt from “Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive” by Harvey MacKay.