Smart Talk from the Shop Floor
“It’s a fair description,” said Richard Hytner, Worldwide Deputy Chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows, when asked to consider the “somewhat sinister overtones” of the word he uses to denote the second-in-command role.
On a recent UK podcast of Shop Floor: The World of Work and the Workplace, Hytner told journalist Nick Peters: “I was in fact asked to be my boss’s consigliere in a dispute between two of his direct reports. And I had to remind myself what consigliere really meant. I re-watched The Godfather and thought, ‘What a brilliant role!’ Of course, I’m suggesting that consiglieri exist in more legitimate fields than Don Corleone’s empire, but it is that person that whispers in the boss’s ear, who is the quiet voice of authority, who can actually guide and shape the boss’s behaviour.”
Shop Floor, which each week explores different topics surrounding the world of work, provided the opportunity for Hytner to discuss his leadership theories about “number twos,” a category capacious enough to include examples such as Cardinal Richelieu, Thomas Cromwell, and Peter Mandelson. Hytner, who has served in CEO roles in the past, admitted to welcoming the “very joyous transition” to the deputy role, a position he wishes he had discovered earlier in his career.
“The great number twos,” Hytner explained, “are deeper thinkers by observation. . . they have the time and space to think, they tend to be more empathetic, they see the world through other people’s eyes, are able to think through scenarios, and some of them are great fixers, too.” The great number ones, meanwhile, are the leaders comfortable with the “X” planted firmly on their backs, those comfortable making the final decisions, adrenaline junkies who thrive on action and have the ability to withstand the heat of the limelight.
Hytner expressed to Peters his belief that more and more modern workplaces are trending toward a “heterarchy,” with today’s emerging leaders “fired up by having many different kinds of opportunities” and “not necessarily looking for linear development.” Organizations now face the challenge, in Hytner’s view, to develop different sets of leadership skills in their best talent, enabling them to play in multiple positions—both King Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, Don Vito and Tom Hagen.
Listen to the complete broadcast here.« Back to Media Articles