I thought I would share a saying with you from my time as a CEO in local government.
“Rooster today, feather-duster tomorrow” recognises how your effectiveness is seen in different places. You are you, but somehow, as you move from job to job, or situation to situation, it either goes well or it goes horribly wrong. Sometimes too, you are indifferent and become just one of the crowd.
We all know about roosters: they generally stand out because of their plumage, are different from the crowd and strut their stuff (whatever that really means). A rooster’s tail feathers can make a wonderful looking feather-duster, though. This scenario applies regardless of your gender.
So, as the CEO at one local government, you are the rooster that can do no wrong. The Council think you are great, staff admire your leadership and the community can’t get enough of you.
Then, when you move onto another district, it all goes horribly wrong. It’s as if you have walked into a minefield. You become snowed under with an ever increasing workload. Those around you become disengaged. You quickly end up doing other people’s work. Finally, the less glamorous matters end up on your plate. In fact, you lose sight of where the organisation should be going. All in all, this is a very long winded way of saying others see you as the feather-duster!
My fellow CEO colleagues and I have experienced this time and time again. Sometimes, we have even gone from the rooster to a feather-duster overnight. I once had a situation where some people said to me: “You suck. The best thing about you being here is your wife, she’s a real trouper!” Now, that’s very sobering in anyone’s language, but in true half glass full fashion I said to myself I’ll take that as a win 😂
The reality is, it’s not just CEOs that share this fate. The rooster/feather-duster happens to many of us, in all walks of life. Regardless of what we are doing, or where we are at. It happens.
Then bizarrely enough, you put the disaster behind you and move onto another experience and “lo and behold,” you become the rooster once more. What is the secret to making this happen? See the marvellous quote by Les Brown below…