Not in the ‘ride-around-bare-chested-on-a-bear’ sort of way [but what a great marketing technique that would be!]. And not because I think that everyone else’s opinions are inherently wrong. Although I will argue with anyone who says mayo is unhealthy – since when are eggs & oil really that bad for you? But that hardly makes me Putin’s opinion-twin. I’m not a fan of scare tactics and almost sideswiping someone by plane, car, or on a sidewalk. I don’t have not-so-secret cameras and microphones planted systematically around the building. I usually have manners and wouldn’t ignore the Queen of England if she needed help down the stairs. The Russian leader is a bit like a combination of the stereotypical movie-Russian-bad-guy and the head of the clique from ‘Mean Girls.’
There’s only one way I’d like to be considered similar to Putin – he always seems so decisive and sure of his actions. The impression of being ‘fearless’; no one is confident following a wishy-washy leader. I would imagine he has a herd of advisors behind the scenes [although I’m a bit doubtful he listens]. But to those outside of his circle, he gives off a confident, yet cocky, aura. And because of his self-assured stature his country seems to follow him loyally (or perhaps just out of downright fear, but regardless it works). I went to Russia a little over a year ago, so I’m an expert of course. Let me tell you about intimidation factor – multiple visible cameras on every building, 1 or 2 ‘police’ on each street corner, blockades, and tanks scattered around. We were warned not to say anything negative about the government or country, as “they were always watching and listening.” From that point on, I showered in about 2 minutes flat. Too many images danced through my head of security guards drinking vodka and laughing as they watched the videos.
Keep up appearances.
A British TV show back in the ‘90s, Keeping Up Appearances, has a quote that Putin seems to believe in: “…no patience for people who pretend to be superior – because it makes it so much harder for those of us who really are.” Not the kind of attitude that one is looking for in a friend, but a bit similar to one we are looking for in a leader.
If you want to lead a company, you have to lead. Brilliant statement, would you agree? You have to inspire people with your confidence, your decisive statements, and corroborating actions. Don’t be a jerk about it though. “We shall fight against them, throw them in prisons and destroy them” (Putin). Of course he also said: “People should always criticize the government, the president. When there’s criticism, it’s good. You can look at things in different ways. It’s healthy.”
Somewhere between these two extremes is what a company executive should aim for. Your advisory council or inner circle can offer suggestions and critiques. But by the time you speak to everyone else, whether that’s clients or family or employees, you must have a confident and strong viewpoint. Followers only follow if they are led by a leader.
If that fails, you better start mass-producing bumper stickers, postcards, and t-shirts of you riding a bear…shirtless.