Television remains the most common way for Americans to get their news.
Richard Hytner spent his career climbing the corporate ladder, eventually occupying the corner office at international advertising giant Saatchi & Saatchi. But as CEO, Hytner realized he was both miserable and uncomfortable with the mounting responsibilities on his plate. In his new book, Hytner examines the realities of leadership and the importance of the advisers, assistants and counselors (or “consiglieri”) who keep those at the helm happy. Kojo sits down with Hytner to find out how we can apply lessons from the top to our own lives.
- Richard Hytner Deputy Chairman, Saatchi & Saatchi, Author, "Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows"
Read An Excerpt
Excerpted from “Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows” by Richard Hytner (2014, Profile Books)
MR. KOJO NNAMDIFrom WAMU 88.5 at American University in Washington, welcome to "The Kojo Nnamdi Show," connecting your neighborhood with the world. Washington is a town of number twos, with all roads leading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, it's the supporting players, the deputies, the adviser, the vice presidents, the secretaries and scores of others who make this town tick. You remember the old playground rhyme, first is the worst, second is the best, third is the one with the -- well, I'll let you fill in the blank. So if being number two really is the best, why it is a role that's historically disparaged?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's a question that intrigued Richard Hytner, a man who once held the reins of power at an advertising powerhouse, only to put them aside for the number two slot. It was a move that both fulfilled him and made him realize how dynamic a role the office off the corner office can be. So what makes a great number two? How can you best serve from behind? And how can we apply lessons from the top to our own lives? Well, Richard Hytner joins us in studio to discuss this. He is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of "Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows." Thank you so much for joining us.
MR. RICHARD HYTNERThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDIYou, too, can join the conversation if you have questions or comments or Richard Hytner. The number is 800-433-8850. Have you ever stepped down from being in the number one spot in your job to pursue something new? 800-433-8850. Or you can send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Shoot us a tweet @kojoshow. Or go to our website, kojoshow.org, where you will be able to read an excerpt from the book, "Consiglieri," by Richard Hytner, there. That's our website, kojoshow.org, where you can also ask a question or make a comment.
NNAMDIRichard, it's not often that a CEO of a global advertising agency like Saatchi & Saatchi reaches the top, only to discover that the really loathes the job. Can you tell us a little more of your story and what happened after you get to that corner office at Saatchi?
HYTNERYes. Thank you, Kojo. I certainly didn't loathe the job. I loved being a CEO for as long as I was a CEO. But after three years of being CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi across Europe, Middle East and Africa, I did question whether I was getting as much joy at work and as much fulfillment as I could.
NNAMDIWell, you did more than question it. It is my understanding that at some point you stood up in a corridor somewhere and said, "I just never want to be a chief executive ever again. It's horrendous."
HYTNERI did. I did. And it just happened to be to the talent director, which is to his mind quite inconvenient. But I did feel that a stint as a number two would be a truly interesting way to test my own leadership muscles -- a different kind of leadership muscle. And it was with a sense of relief that I gave up the top job, as it's defined, to do something different. But I didn't see it as a step down. I did see it as some kind of march toward something different.
NNAMDIWhat bothered you most about being CEO? Was it the pressure to drive profit? Was it your power over the lives and livelihoods of your people? Or was it the fact that you didn't have much of a life outside the office anymore?
HYTNERA combination of all three. I definitely loved the adrenaline of action that comes with being the final decision maker. I truly enjoyed the privilege of leading other people. But in the end, I did feel that those people decisions weighed more heavily on me than perhaps I would have wanted. And certainly I didn't feel I was the best person qualified to drive for more margin and more profit. I always had some balance in my life. I never was the kind of CEO that gave up literally everything. But certainly there is a greater ability to impose your own agenda on your more passionate choices when you're not actually the person whose time is demanded 24/7 by everybody who's working in the organization.
NNAMDIWere you comfortable making quick decisions as CEO or do you tend to be more of a deliberative type?
HYTNERMore of a deliberative type. If you with my boss, Kevin Roberts, Saatchi & Saatchi's chief executive, he used to say to my fellow board colleagues, the thing about Richard is, there's no point asking him a question and expecting an immediate answer. We need to give him two days to come back with his best thinking. And so, in a sense, this move to a conciglieri role absolutely suits the more analytical -- the person who really does like having some time and space to think.
NNAMDIYou pronounced the word correctly in the Italian, conciglieri. We tend to say conciglieri over here. But either/or, tomato/tomato, it doesn't really matter. The essence of what we're talking about is the same. And if you'd like to join the conversation, you should know that we're talking with Richard Hytner, who is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi, and his book is the name we're talking about, consiglieri, "Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows." 800-433-8850 is our number. Are you striving to climb the corporate ladder? What attracts you to the top spot? Would you be happy being the number two? 800-433-8850.
NNAMDIRichard, how did your colleagues react when you decided to step aside? And how did they treat you in the month or so immediately following?
HYTNERThere was certainly a sense of bemusement because I think, at the time --although I don't believe I was a world-class chief executive, I was doing an okay job, a solid job -- so I think there was some surprise that I was ready to relinquish that kind of privileged position of being the leader. What happened immediately afterwards, I noticed the very same people who'd been working for me did begin to interact with me slightly differently. You lose that immediate authority that comes with being the captain, the chief executive. And you have to win and re-win exactly the same colleagues' trust and respect using far less overt authority.
HYTNERAnd in the end, what happens -- it did take some time -- in the end, people begin to value afresh the quality of your ideas. And you live or die by the quality of your ideas, as opposed to the length of your title.
NNAMDIIt's fascinating. In a way, you're really talking about navigating the same territory but in a different way because you're in a different role. Tell me about your job as deputy chairman at Saatchi now. Do you get to exercise your creative juices more? Are you happier?
HYTNERI'm much happier, precisely because I get to exercise those creative juices more. I get the time to think. I get the space to think. More importantly, I have time to help other people land their better ideas and their best ideas. Whereas, when you're the chief executive, inevitably you're dealing with the important and the urgent, and you have less time for reflection, less time to help other people. So I'm much, much happier. And the reason I wrote the book was because I felt, why wait till you're 48 to realize there are many other ways you can contribute to leadership than from the top-dog's office.
NNAMDIThat was my next question to you. Why did it inspire you to write the book at this time? Was it -- did you see it as being important to essentially tell the world that -- essentially underscore the importance of number twos of the world?
HYTNERYeah. Yes, I felt, when I looked around at what has been written about leadership with -- almost exclusively, the focus is on the top job. How to be a number one? How to be a better number one? How to stay as number one? And so little was written about the craft and the importance of roles that support the leader. And so I felt very personally it was important that people shouldn't wait until they're far later in their careers to understand that there are other roles beside the top role. There was also a sense of irritation with the top guys, that they are Hoovering up all the credit and all the recognition and all the oxygen.
HYTNERAnd I did feel, on behalf of many, many people who make great contributions as deputies, assistants and advisors, that somebody had to put a line in the sand and say, just briefly, let's turn the spotlight on this particular role.
NNAMDIAnd that's what Richard Hytner is doing in his book, "Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows." You categorize leaders and their number twos as either A's or C's. And when I first picked up the book, I said, well this doesn't seem to follow the alphabet. What happened to the B's? But you are looking at a slightly different alphabet that maybe only people in your world do fully understand. The R, A, S, C, I, alphabet.
HYTNERYeah, the first premise is let's get rid of the numbers. Because number one and number two is iniquitous. It establishes a hierarchy that automatically says, one is more important than two. So I thought of A and B. But inevitably, that suffers exactly the same problem.
HYTNERB was particularly appropriate because in fact, in baboon physiology, it's the beta baboon who's happier than the alpha baboon. The beta gets less stress and more joy. But I skipped the B and came to C, because I think the consiglieri position, as made famous by Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen in "The Godfather," really did establish this idea that there are people who love to lead who do not covet the crown or who have had that position but are happy to give it up. And I thought A and C would make people -- first of all, A, finally accountable, and, C, those people who are consiglieri who coach, cajole, counsel the out-and-out leader.
NNAMDIR, person who's responsible for carrying it out. S, for support system involved, and I, the person or persons responsible for implementing?
HYTNERYeah, actually for getting the information.
HYTNERThe people you need to inform. So this is based on a project management system we run at Saatchi called RASCI. And you're right, it's actually -- the kind of principle behind it is to be really clear about the assignment of responsibilities. And most relationships flounder when you fail to acknowledge who's really making the final decision. Whose opinions do we seek, as the C. Who's responsible for landing the project. And who do we need to keep informed. So RASCI is a beautiful way of keeping harmony amongst a diverse set of leaders.
NNAMDIIs it possible that there are times when the consiglieri are, in fact, leaders themselves? I'm thinking of the famous Washington Post managing editor Ben Bradlee who died recently, who himself was the leader of a very large newsroom, but who acted as consiglieri to the publisher of The Washington Post, Katharine Graham. Before final decisions were made, he consulted with her. He was in her ear. He helped to push her into making those decisions.
HYTNERI think he was a wonderful role model for exactly what you're describing, you know, the kind of leader that is both A and C at exactly the same time and B. The more experience you have, particularly in that kind of role as a managing editor, the more likely it is that you have to adapt to these different muscles every single day. And reading some of the obituaries from The New Yorker, David Remnick, talking about his ability to be a great teacher. Martha Sherrill, who wrote a beautiful piece that talks about the fact that this kind of spotlight seemed to follow him around wherever he went. And he was almost present, even when absent.
HYTNERSo he was that charismatic leader, the A leader, but at the same time, someone who one would go to for counsel and advice, even in the latter years of his career.
NNAMDIOn to the telephones. Here is Daniel in Arlington, Va. Daniel, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
DANIELHello. Good afternoon. So I had a question in regards to how do you have this unique set of insight into both being a CEO and being in the C suite, do you have perhaps a different perspective on how a CEO might choose their second? How somebody in number one should look for a number two? And also, if you are, say, the founder of a company and -- James Dyson comes to mind on this -- who doesn't seem themselves as being the CEO. How do you pick a leader over yourself, if you're going to be a number two?
HYTNERYeah, that's terrific questions.
HYTNERThe first one is -- really strikes at the heart of how you cast. And I suggest that any CEO casts a diverse circle of consiglieri. My own boss, Kevin Roberts, would have at least five or six people that routinely he would turn to for different kinds of advice. And although there might be one defining number two, I wouldn't hedge everything -- I would hedge a little, but not place all bets on one consiglieri. So the way to cast is to be candid with yourself about what qualities you bring to the out-and-out leadership position, to be really truthful about what you are not so good at, and cost a very complementary kind of character.
HYTNERIn every case, if you want a brilliant consiglieri, you must cast for someone who's going to speak the truth to you, who's going to liberate you from the dull fodder of management, who's going to bring you fresh ideas. The second question you raise about founders who aren't really CEOs, this pertains to many, many businesses where people start a business. They're great, they have great vision. But they clearly don't feel that they have the right skills to lead a business or an organization at scale. And you're right, Dyson is one example, Branson another.
HYTNERAnd my advice there would be to give people the authority to be A's in their own right. And seed as much control as you can to the people who you really want to run your organizations. And allow yourself to play, if you'd like, the C role as owner much as a publisher might do to their managing editor and really let go.
HYTNERAnd the problems exist where owners actually believe that they are the A and the C and they don't really want an A and a C role. And that's where you get disharmony.
NNAMDIDaniel, thank you for your call. You too can call, 800-433-8850 if you have comments or questions for Richard Hytner. He is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of "Consiglieri: Leading From the Shadows." Is your boss emotional, intelligent, credible, reliable and inspiring? Are you Consiglieri? What is your relationship like with your boss, 800-433-8850?
NNAMDIRichard, what's interesting about the C's who stand behind their A leaders is that the best ones are like coaches. They have to constantly think strategically about their boss' next move which brings me back to your now being in a position where you can reflect more. But they also need to comfort on occasions, cajole, be a confidant. Can you go into a little more detail about the delicate balancing act that C's have to be involved in?
HYTNERIt's very delicate. I think the most important thing is that you're true to yourself, that you always speak truth to power, that you're candid. And that means that C's have to have incredible courage. Quite often C's are defined by their A's and they become so closely defined that when the A falls, the C falls too. And I think you have to be prepared to say, I'm all in with this A. And that means you really do have to hold that mirror up to your A if you feel that that A is actually not being true to him or herself, doing something which is perhaps not helpful to other in the organization.
HYTNERBut you have to choose your moment. You talk about that delicate balance. It's – you know, you get to know you’re a incredibly well. You have enough affection for that A and empathy for that A that you choose that moment where you impart your killer advice.
NNAMDISo that the C should never be what used to be known as a yes man, which would now be a yes person. (laugh) A C should never be that.
HYTNERNo. I think flatterers are out and A's who surround themselves with people who are kind of soothsayers who simply feed them what they want will soon run out of steam. Bad A's beget bad C's. And one definition of a bad A is the A who says, don't bring me bad news. Don't tell me what I don't want to hear. Only feed me stuff that's going to make me feel good in the moment. That A is going to have a very short lifespan.
NNAMDIGlad you brought that up because one type of C leader you talk about in this book is the friend who acts as an anchor to the big boss. In this town a lot of friends are occupying number two roles in government. How can friends be effective C leaders even if they're suspected of being just cronies?
HYTNERYeah, there's a big difference between being a friend and a crony. And I think it's the word critical. I think friends need to be critical friends. If you're simply surrounding yourself by people who you have a great deal of affection for but you don't allow them that permission to hold that mirror up to you, then they're not going to have great value to you organizationally. They may do socially but not organizationally.
HYTNERValerie Jarrett clearly as the third Obama, is a kind of role model for this critical friend. Clearly President Obama has lent on her as has the first lady. There are really key roles that friends can play. Harry Hopkins did it for FDR. The people who really do, understand what that A leader can tolerate. They know the decisions that they can live with and they use their friendship and affection to hold that leader true to their values and their beliefs.
NNAMDIBack to the phones again. Here is Shawn in Cape Maine, N.J. Shawn, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
SHAWNGreat. Thank you so much. A great show, and I have experience in the military and in business. And it seems that in a lot of cases a person isn't striving to be quote unquote "number one" there's a problem. You know, they're not motivated or they're not a hard charger kind of thing. And I think the whole very concept gets to the point that different people have different interests, different talents. And I like that comment about the baboon physiology that, you know, some people as number two might be very well-rewarded and affirmed by being number two and using their talents in that respect...
NNAMDIBut your observation about the military is that it doesn't work quite that way in the military, does it?
SHAWNWell, no. You know, it's up or out in a lot of cases, you know, if you're not striving, striving, striving to be number one. And I think in a lot of situations we may frustrate people because they're really not meant to be "number one" quote unquote. They're meant to be those critical advisors, you know, very competent maybe executive officers as opposed to a commanding officer maybe kind of thing.
NNAMDIWhat do you have in a structure, whether it's military or corporate, where that kind of culture exists?
HYTNERIt's very difficult. In fact, I spoke to one military man. He said the extraordinary thing about a military organization, the British army, is that every career bar one you could think ends in failure because there is only one overall commander.
HYTNERThe truth is, I think, what the military teaches, it's very well in terms of leadership, is that responsibilities are very clearly assigned. That's the first thing. The second thing is this A and C model does exist right throughout the organization. So it's kind of free of hierarchy in the sense that as a young person entering a job, you can very early on test your ability to be a project leader, an A or a department leader versus more of an assistant or an advisor. And this book is an encouragement to people to test themselves in these different positions much earlier on.
NNAMDIAs deputy chairman at Saatchi & Saatchi, what kind of C leader are you?
HYTNERI'd like to think I was a very candid, truth-teller to my A Kevin Roberts. I'm certainly in the – I typify these in four different categories. There are people who liberate, educate, anchor and deliver. And great C leaders have an ability to kind of float between these four modes. I suppose my bias would be in that kind of educational area. I'm mad about teaching. I do some work at London Business School. And I get great joy now at this stage of my life passing stuff on. So I would probably say that's where the accent...
NNAMDILater in the broadcast we'll try to figure out where you get the time to do all this stuff. Right now we have to take a short break. Of course this is the sixth day of our fall membership campaign. But after we take care of that we'll return to this conversation with Richard Hytner, deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of "Consiglieri" -- or you might say Consiglieri -- "Leading From the Shadows." I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIBack to our conversation with Richard Hytner, deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of "Consiglieri: Leading From the Shadows." It's a conversation we're inviting you to join at 800-433-8850. You can read an excerpt from "Consiglieri" at our website kojoshow.org. You can shoot us a tweet @kojoshow or email to email@example.com. I'd like to go back to the phones, this time starting with Stuart in McLean, Va. Stuart, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
STUARTThank you, Kojo. I've got a couple of related questions for your guest. Mr. Hytner, would you describe your personality type to be that of an extrovert or an introvert? And a related question, do you think that extroverts are best suited for the CEO role?
HYTNERI would say that although I have had to perform throughout my life as a CEO, I'm more introvert than extrovert. And I think there is something that appeals to introverts about the C roles. And I've had quite a few introverts come back to me having read the book to say, it's fantastic to see some more validation that introverts can still lead.
HYTNERShould extroverts play the CEO role? I think these days one has to be comfortable operating in the limelight. If Kojo wasn't happy to be in the spotlight, he couldn't front the show. I think most CEO's, most people in public office now, whether they like it or not, don't get the kind of privacy that C's can still enjoy as leaders. A leaders typically have to be out there in front. Of course, those who are not the best public speakers can employ front people as their spokespeople. But Saatchi's technology now that A leaders really have to be comfortable out there in front. So they need some kind of extroversion in that character.
NNAMDIStuart, thank you very much for your call. We move on to Chrissie in Silver Spring, Md. Chrissie, your turn.
CHRISSIEHi there. Thanks for having me on. I just wanted to comment actually. I worked in marketing and advertising for many years in New York. I was a brand manager in my last position. And although I was certainly not a C, so to speak, on the level of Mr. Hytner, I did support my director and a lot of other people in the department.
CHRISSIEAnd I wanted to comment that one of the things that was always difficult for me was the pace of advertising, just the crazy pace sometimes and the frequency with which I found myself having to respond instantly to issues and put out fires rather than having the time to think things through. I just wanted to say to Mr. Hytner, I really think that the message in your book, or at least you identifying yourself as somebody who functions by being able to have that time is really empowering for those of us who are like you. And I think it legitimizes this quality for people not just in business but those of us working in other areas. And so thank you.
HYTNERThank you, Chrissie.
NNAMDIYou just validated all of the hours and days that Richard Hytner (unintelligible) writing this book. (laugh)
HYTNERThank you very much, Chrissie.
NNAMDIThat's precisely the purpose for which you wanted to write this book.
HYTNERYes, it is. And, as Chrissie says, they're all C positions where you can spend more time thinking and shaping outcomes. And there's a great joy attached to that. The other thing to say is A's of course also need those people who can help them deal with the urgent and important. That's why they have fixers too. So there are some C's who are more like deliverers than perhaps educators or coaches, as it sounds like Chrissie was to her boss.
NNAMDI80-433-8850 is the number if you have questions or comments for Richard Hytner about "Consiglieri." Do you think there's a stigma attached to not being the number one or do those who advise the top dog get to have more fun, 800-433-8850? Richard, in this town it seems like you can't win no matter what kind of leader you are. George W. Bush as president declared himself the decider. And he was blamed for aggressive unilateral policymaking. President Obama went in promising he'd be more of a listener. And now he's being blamed for weak and sometimes inscrutable policies. Is the best strategy to stay mum on your leadership style?
HYTNERIt's incredible how we set the expectation. Society, whether we're in Washington or more generally, we set these crazy expectations of our leaders, more and more short term expectations. So we load them up with these guys are going to make the big brutal decisions. We want them out there. We want them to deal with the important, the urgent. And then when they pause -- as President Obama has done from time to time -- we annihilate them, reputationally. Or when George W. Bush makes the big decision we go, what on Earth was he thinking about?
HYTNERWhat's interesting about both examples is that they both are surrounded by other kinds of leaders. And so although you say, George Bush is known as the team decider, boy, did he have a, you know, a rank of heavyweights around him. Whether that's Cheney or Romley or Rove, as does President Obama. So I think the interesting thing from a leadership analysis point of view is to look at the diverse set of leaders around the A and go, do they complement well the personality type of this particular leader?
NNAMDIIt's the C's you need to be looking at in order to fully understand.
NNAMDIYou start your first chapter with a fascinating quote from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Blair says of Gordon Brown, "Being number one is something he preferred to want, rather than to be." Of course, Gordon Brown did go on to be prime minister. But his predecessor's quote raises a good question. Even if you've always wanted the top job, how does one really know that you're cut out for it?
HYTNERI think it's often quite dangerous to want it as much as some of these A's really want it. If I'm casting, I'm a little bit suspicious if the A's rampant ambition to be an A overtakes everything else. Some of the best A's have actually been reluctant A's, they've been people that have been egged on to be the A's. And this time I think Thomas Jefferson was a kind of reluctant A second time around. So I think it's very important that one casts for the right reasons. And that when one's dealing with succession, one looks at context, the suitability of the candidate and more.
HYTNERWhat's fascinating about Gordon Brown, of course, he was derided as the number one who failed. But to those who have paid any attention to the Scottish referendum, this tiny part of Great Britain, its independence and that whole campaign, the no-vote, the no to independence was actually secured by Gordon Brown. It was him stepping back into the limelight as former number one that really changed the game.
NNAMDISo that method he seemed to operate better as C than as an A.
HYTNERAbsolutely. I think that's the -- he was a great chancellor (unintelligible) he turned out to be a great orator dealing with the kind of -- the United Kingdom as a united kingdom, but in that final job, that final A job, perhaps he was an A minus.
NNAMDIYou say it's important for leaders to be emotionally astute. They need to be able to gauge the temperature of a room. They need to understand how their consiglieri are feeling. At the same time you say that A leaders in your experience aren't very good at self-reflection because it's often a sign of self-doubt. So leaders have to be emotionally intelligent, but not about themselves?
HYTNERThey have to be both. I'm blessed with a great A who spends enough time reflecting on himself and the effect of his behavior on those around him. A great A leader must have high doses of emotional intelligence, at the same time they really, really have to know what their future ambition is all about. Some great A's actually do come to a point in their life where they, too, actually wish to be released from the tyranny of power and get to a point where they can occupy a C role. So I think one needs to reflect enough to make sure you don't just sit in that position for too long because you happen to be very good at being an A.
NNAMDIWell, just when you were saying right there, it just occurred to me that former President Jimmy Carter seems to have had a great afterlife in a C role, when he was not that successful in the A role.
HYTNERYes. I think a great number of our A leaders, even when they're given a bad rap at the time, go on to become incredibly powerful C's. There was a reason they became A's in the first place. They had great leadership qualities. So he would be a fantastic example of that.
NNAMDIIn Washington, changes at the helm can come weekly. Most recently we've seen turnover at the top of the Secret Service, following a series of scandals. What have you learned about dynamics at the top when there's rapid turnover because of emergency situations?
HYTNERI think succession in crisis is very, very difficult. Part of the problem with planning succession too long term is one's not flexible enough to deal with the situation. The secret service is unfortunate clearly, because someone's been pulled out of retirement -- Joseph Clancy -- a former very good C, detail to the president, who's been asked to come in and care take this particular organization, and an A who was given very little time and punished for some clear mistakes during her time as the A.
HYTNERSo I think life has become more brutal. We are less forgiving of our A's, and particularly those in the spotlight. So lessons to be learned, be really clear what you're casting for. Know if you are dealing with a crisis that you have to have an A who's comfortable in turnaround situations, very comfortable answering to all the stakeholders whose buy-in they're going to need. You can't really have a safe pair of hands, a steady pair of hands, an over-analytical person coming to solve a crisis. You do need somebody particularly decisive.
NNAMDIThe Washington Post reported that the real reason that Secret Service Director Julia Pierson resigned was that President Obama found out from news reports that he had been in an elevator with an armed felon. When is it a good idea to keep something from the boss and when is it not a good idea? I read where Donald Graham, the son of Kay Graham, was saying that there was only one major piece of information that Ben Bradlee kept from his mother, and then told her later on that maybe it was better that she didn't know that information. But when is it a good idea to do that and when not?
HYTNERI don't think it's ever a good idea to keep something away from the boss if that boss is going to end up being embarrassed, humiliated or anything like that. So the mantra of Kevin Roberts, to me, is certainly just never embarrassment.
NNAMDIYou are facing a change at the top. You mentioned Kevin Roberts, your longtime CEO. He will be leaving in January. And Robert Sr., who has your old job as CEO of Europe, the Middle East and Africa, will take the helm. Can you talk a little bit about this adjustment for you and then more broadly about how supporting staff should approach new leaders when they arrive?
HYTNERWell, first of all, our succession's a little bit more methodical than you described. Because Kevin Roberts is not leaving. He's staying on executive chairman.
HYTNERSo the A remains the A. However, what he has done is to recognize that for the next five years what he would like and what he would value and what the company needs is a shift at the top. And he's appointed Robert Sr. to be the A and Chris Foster as Robert's kind of main fixing C. So there's abuse of kind of complementarity of roles at the top, a kind of wise former CEO playing chairman and now chief consiglieri and head coach. A new vibrant CEO, underpinned by and supported by a terrific operations number two.
HYTNERSo that's the intended shift. And what it points to is a very careful kind of succession planning that quite often is absent when companies think about succession. All they think about is who's going to be the new A. And I think it's terribly important to look at not just the suitability of that A, but also the full circle of consiglieri around that A.
NNAMDIRichard Hytner is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of "Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows." We're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. I'd like to talk about bad bosses for minute and how they impact their underlings. First, when we look at autocratic countries like North Korea, China, the dynamic between these powerful leaders and their number two seems, at least to us, to be either total fear or subterfuge. Taking this to a level more of us can relate to, do bad bosses usually attract bad consiglieri?
HYTNERI profoundly believe that bad bosses do attract bad consiglieri. And it is a dynamic. It is a relationship. And some bad behavior from an A can have unintended and awful consequences. So it's terribly important if you are going to hitch your mast to an A, you need to be really confident and comfortable about that A's values, what the cause is that that A is signing up for, and you therefore, vicariously, doing that, too. So it's terribly, terribly important, that dynamic between A and C.
NNAMDIWell, we're running out of time very quickly. But you mention that in your spare time -- and that's skepticism you're hearing here -- you teach marketing at the London Business School. What are you learning from younger generations about what they expect from climbing the corporate ladder?
HYTNERWell, the first and most important thing I've learned is that younger generations don't even see the ladder. That data that we've collected at London Business School suggests that the millennial generation, at least, is likely to have at least 16 different jobs during their lifetime. So what I think the consiglieri offers is a portfolio of opportunities for them to test themselves in a series of adventures, not a linear climb up this ladder to the top, which, after all, is kind of a shallow chase. Because when you get to that top, you look back and realize you forgot to take a few photographs on the way up.
NNAMDIThat rumbling sound you hear is my father turning in his grave. He worked on the same job for over 50 years, working his way slowly along. Not so much anymore. Richard Hytner is deputy chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi and author of "Consiglieri: Leading from the Shadows." Thank you so much for joining us.
HYTNERThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDII'm Kojo Nnamdi.
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