Never a victim

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I was walking down a dark street in my suit. The mugger must have thought Christmas had come early, even though I do not really look like Santa Claus, yet. With a knife and some fairly traditional Anglo-Saxon, he invited me to empty my pockets.

This was not the mugger’s lucky day. I carry no wallet, no plastic, no watch. He got a grand total of £15. I felt sorry for him: all that effort and hardly enough cash to pay for his next fix. After completing the formalities, we went our separate ways: to the local dealer and the local cop shop. On balance I was lucky and had got the better of the deal: £15 seems a small price to pay for a memorable experience.

At the police station I was baffled to hear the police talking about “the victim.” After a while, I realised they were talking about me. Mugging is bad enough: being called a victim is worse. A leader is never a victim of anything, ever. We may wind up in tight spots if we wander down dark streets: that’s our fault and we live with it, learn from it and move on.

It is tempting to think that the victim mentality is reserved for the underclass. Sadly, many CEOs have fallen into the victim mentality. If the annual results are sub par it is the fault of the weather, the economy, unfair competition, interest rates or a poor alignment of the planets. The CEO is the helpless victim of events beyond his control. But if there is success, it is down to heroic and inspired leadership.

When CEOs succumb to victim mentality they are abandoning responsibility and smart boards should abandon the CEO. We need leaders, not victims running organisations.

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