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Oh, to suddenly point out that the way you’ve run the ship for the past 20 years was actually wrong after all

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BadConsultant has been undertaking a veritable feast of networking recently – attending big meetings, watching top notch business speakers, catching as many business cards as possible.

[and squirelling away other peoples’ ideas into our knowledge management database]

At one two-day event there were at least 10 keynote speakers.

Only one was under 50.

Marcus Buckingham.

Who gave a strong performance.


But, let’s you and I play a little guessing game.

Of the other 9 speakers, how many genders do you think were represented?

Come on…

We’re waiting…

Alright, two – they were all men – except Madeleine Albright.

Here’s another one.

How many races were represented?

Come on…

All right, three – white, bangladeshi

[Muhammad Yunus – who gave a great speech about micro-financing – somebody should give that guy a nobel prize]

and african-american

[Colin Powell – who shared a session with Albright]

So, you’d think that this session was pretty balanced… Well, it wasn’t – it was the angry white guys over 50 club.

And, oh boy, were they angry.

They paced the stage, they did that curious pointing but not pointing, they did that revivalist staring at the heavens while speaking in tones almost painful to them. They spoke and spoke of bitter experience and of learning. They shared the wisdom gained over the past 30 years. And it could be boiled down to this…

I have been an asshole for the majority of my career and, now that I’ve retired and have books to sell, I’m going to speak of enlightenment and of how people will be successful if they just do what I failed to do throughout my career.

Which would be fine. If they would admit to the fact that they were assholes. But they don’t. They preach, and preach, and preach, speaking in tongues, and experiencing the rapture. Fire and brimstone in their eyes, arms raced heavenward to call the lightning.

At one point, one of them even said that they had benefited from being a VP of a small business unit at age 27. A pivotal experience. Except he then failed to mention whether he had EVER put a 27 year old in charge of a business unit once he was a CEO

[BadConsultant is laying very low odds that he did]

Funnily enough, the only speakers to present anything that seemed like leadership were Powell, Albright and a jet-lagged Tony Blair. These were leaders who had caused change to happen in the world. And you could tell. These weren’t revisionists, retelling their careers into neatly packaged homilies about how kumbaya should have become a corporate singalong.

So, just for the record.

Servant leadership, Humble leadership, Authentic leadership, and any other word you might append to the L-word, none of them excuse a history of brutal dictatorship and corporate excess. None of them excuse the boomers who were rebellious in the sixties, bored by the seventies, conforming by the eighties and closely resembling their parents by the nineties. None of them can take away the fact that the boomers failed to deliver the change they were uniquely positioned to deliver.

Remorse is fine. Just don’t pretend like the past 30 years never happened.

Good – at least that’s out of our system.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.