You will be Mr Pink

I have to admit it; I am a fan of Tarantino. But we have to recognise that we can get the most out of it if we are talking about human behaviour.

In today’s case we are going to talk about power in the organisations with the following fragment of his first film: Reservoir Dogs.

 

In any organisation it is easy to find anybody with the power of Joe Cabot (Lawrence Tierney) the chief of the mafia. His authority is undisputable and he is completely conscious that he has all the power in the organisation. This power that he has over all the others is a double edge sword; on one hand it allows to organise the group quickly and make it focus in the goals. On the other hand, it entails to create a bad environment and aggressiveness between the people who join this group.

The main difference between a leader and a boss is very simple: the leader is made by others, the boss is made by itself.

The leader draws his power from the people who are part of the organisation. It is all the company that relies on this leader to give him the ability to make decisions and the authority. The same way, it is the organisation and its members who can easily snatch this power and put this person to the same level as the others. Thus, the leader arises from the other people who are part of the company.

On the other hand, the boss gets his power from the authority and from the hierarchy. He is on the top of a pyramid. He has escalated step by step and once on the top he knows nobody can put him out. He is conscious nobody can snatch his power and that his decisions will not be discussed, as if anybody tries to, he will have few chances to win: “There’s two ways you can go on this job: my way or the highway”.

As we see the main difference is who gives to power to them. In one of them is the organisation who gives the power in a consensual way (leader) and in the other a hierarchy that cannot be changed does (boss).

This does not mean that a boss cannot be a good leader, nor that a leader cannot become a boss. But in the moment that a leader starts doing things wrong, the organisation will take charge to solve the problem, while with the boss is much more difficult.

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I’m Winston Wolf. I solve problems.

If you have seen Pulp Fiction sure you remember Mr Wolf (Harvey Keitel) and his special way in solving problems. Nowadays we can find this character in different companies. It’s a rare one, but certainly valuable.

Mr Wolf is not known for his kindness, courtesy or teamwork. He is known for his effectiveness (understanding this as the fact of doing something with the less resources and time as possible). We usually appeal to Mr Wolf when everything we’ve tried before has failed, so when we have a problem. But what makes Mr Wolf so effective?

1. Good planning: Even before he knows what he is facing he knows how to organize all his resources so these can be at 100% of their capabilities. It’s as simple as to been aware of what you have are your disposal (in this case two assassins, a very angry host and a corpse inside a car).

2. Managing time: It’s thirty minutes away. I’ll be there in ten“. Anybody who wants to be considered a Mr Wolf must be able to manage his time properly when facing a problem. The excuse that there wasn’t enough time to solve it doesn’t work. The situation is what it is and have to know finding ways to solve it.

Mr Wolf. I solve problems.

Mr Wolf. I solve problems.

3. Stress tolerance: Usually in this kind of situations other members of the team can feel frustrated. That’s what happens to Vincent Vega (John Travolta). He can’t control his outbursts and even knowing that Mr Wolf is helping them, he’s unable to contain disrespecting him. Though, Mr Wolf knows how to face this issues downplaying them and focusing the team to aim the objective.

4. He knows well the problem: A must, the first he does is to give out the problem to all those involved to clarify any point as necessary. This may seem irrelevant, though is one of the most important actions, so very often the lack of communication is the worst of the barriers that one can find in any organization.

5. He doesn’t distract with irrelevant things: He knows exactly how to distinguish the important things from those which are not. “Now, when it comes to the upholstery…it don’t need to be spic-and-span. You don’t need to eat off it”. So as simple as to focus in the important things to solve the problem. He can’t afford to distract or be perfectionist, he must focus in the objective.

6. Don’t count your chickens: Well, let’s not start…“. Master sentence that Taratino gives us. How many times we thought it’s been all solved and then suddenly incidentals happen. We must avoid to rush and do check whatever is necessary to be sure the problem has been sorted out, if not we’ll find new issues in a short time.

At end, if you liked my point of view of Mr Wolf, no doubt to visit the page of Javier Megias where you will be able to find a very interesting post about the same character and his leadership skills.

The good, the bad and the ugly. All of them work with me.

If I had to define the different roles people do when trying to approach an objective, I’d say there are only three: thee good, the bad and the ugly.

All three have a common point which is pursuing their goal with insatiable perseverance. They fight day by day to achieve it, and if there are any contingencies, they overcome them. Even though, there are a few and important differences between them.

The good (Clint Eastwood): It’s that persona that will usually act legally in order to achieve his objective. Even though there can be a few exceptions. We could talk about a positive attitude (maybe win-win?) taking advantages of his own strenghts as well as his colleagues. This is a very collaborative person, comprehensible and hard worker. It’s not weird that his colleagues are also his own friends. What makes the difference in the good is his great ability of teamwork. this is exactly what catapults him directly to achieve his objective, so it allows him to see the weakness of the team, trying to improve them as possible. (The fraud he does with the ugly and his execution… That’s true teamwork!).

El bueno y el feo aprendiendo a trabajar en equipo.

The good and the ugly learning to teamwork.

The bad (Lee Van Cleef): He stands by his ambition to achieve the objective over anything else. If things become bad, he will never leave his way and will do all possible to reach the end. In the other hand, this ambition will make difficult that his colleagues benefit, so his own objectives are over all the others. In the film we can see this persistence in the fact that even though all his mates have been killed, he doesn’t give up and finally arrives to the treasure (what will become deadly to him). Though he seems to be authoritarian, he’s a person with skill in leadership, and is always the last who keeps pulling when all the other have thrown in the towel.

The ugly (Eli Wallach): His resilience is, with no doubt, what makes him a truly survivor. He feels relatively comfortable working together with the two others, profiting as much as possible for his own in a subtle way. But he will never doubt to change his mind, so he knows which side one’s bread is buttered on. Furthermore, he’s very loquacious what allows him to get away with many difficult situations. His flexibility means many advantages to reach his goal. In the film, he almost kills the good, but in the last second he has to change his mind and not only forgiving his life  but working with him as well. So it’s exactly this chameleon role what will bring him to his main objective for sure.

Which one do you identify with?

PS: For all those who haven’t seen the film, at the end the good and the ugly kill the bad and share the treasure 😉