“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”
― Thomas Paine
One of the most dangerous leaders to have in a company is the unaccountable #2.
UNANT, for short , is usually a former founder, or a top executive, who is still involved in the company, but has no direct reports, or clear accountability for a specific business line.
It can be the CTO, chief strategy officer,the vice chairman or any other obscure title.
Because of his seniority,status and experience the UNANT advises are actually considered decisions.
Unlike other managers, his decisions don’t have to be backed by budgets or organizational support , as he is not the one executing them or responsible for the outcome. It also makes life hard for the rest of the team. Who wants to contradict a member of the board?
In many cases, the lack of accountability , while the authority exists, makes it hard to distinguish “decisions” from “opinion”.
The UNANT tends use annoying stories from 20 years ago to show he is right (=everyone else is wrong ).
“What’s so hard? We wrote version Three in two hours, we only had a broken typewriter , one chair for four people and we sold 50,000 copies in three days.”
The UNANT also comes up with original ideas like “If every developer puts an extra hour a day on cleaning the office we can fire our cleaners and save lots of money”
The only worst organizational type is the unaccountable #2 spin master .He actually has direct reports and theoretical responsibility , but manages to never pay the price for his decisions. His direct reports are usually being replaced 🙂