The Benevolent Dictator: Keys to Successful Decision-making - Slide 4

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Sometimes when leaders must take the initiative to quickly put their decisions into practice, they feel like the schoolyard bully. But that’s where the benevolent side of your leadership must kick in. Feuer certainly appreciates the effect his decisions have on all of his constituents, starting with customers. Without them, of course, they wouldn’t have a business. A benevolent dictator style may sound autocratic at first, but when the emphasis is on the benevolent portion, meaning you’re doing what is right for the greater good, the odds for success move in your favor. Feuer also always made it clear to his employees how much he appreciated and valued them. During high-stress periods, he would explain, “You know the next few days are critical for us, so if I ask for something, infer that I said ‘please,’ and when you do it, know that I mean ‘thank you.’”

Don Tennant has come to know a lot of CIOs and other IT leaders over the years, and if there’s one quality that characterizes those who’ve been the most successful, it has to be their willingness to make tough decisions without feeling compelled to go through the time- and energy-sapping ordeal of trying to build a consensus or analyzing the situation to death. So when he spoke recently with Michael Feuer, the co-founder and longtime CEO of OfficeMax, he was nodding so much he says he felt like a bobblehead in an earthquake.

According to Don, Feuer, author of the book, "The Benevolent Dictator: Empower Your Employees, Build Your Business and Outwit the Competition," has, once and for all, debunked the myth that the best leaders are consensus builders. Don’s interview with Feuer is posted here, but this excerpt from their conversation will give you an idea of where Feuer is coming from:

I can remember from my OfficeMax days, I loved the company except for three constituents: the employees, the customers, and the investors. Other than that, I had a great time every day of my life. But I know the IT guys would get so damn frustrated because they’d have to go through levels to get through the capital appropriations process. I happened to love IT, and I would sometimes just cut to the chase, bring in the thought leaders in a given project that needed money, and I’d say, “Tell me about it, explain to me what’s in it for us.” And then I’d say, “We’ll make it happen,” or “Don’t waste your time, we’re done.” When I’d say “Make it happen,” they were, of course, very pleased. When I said “Don’t waste your time,” they’d say, “Thanks,” because they’re not beating their heads against the wall, and they go do something else.

Sounds like the kind of leader every IT worker wishes he or she was working for, doesn’t it?

This slideshow features the seven tips Feuer has come up with to make decisions like a benevolent dictator.

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