But maybe not in the ways you think. During my career, I've had the opportunity to work with a number of wealthy and super-wealthy business people (even had a few of them reporting to me -- the primary subject of this post). They were all as different from one another as any random group of people with a few exceptions.
But those commonalities seemed to make a big difference in the way they saw and approached business and career. Nowhere is this more evident than when you wind up having someone wealthy reporting to you. Here are the key characteristics I observed:
1. Wealthy business people have "go to hell" money. It means they do not need to submit to the same demeaning, heavy-handed, managerial pressures that other, less wealthy managers often must endure. The have the resources to elect to refuse to allow themselves to be demeaned by egotistical superiors.
2. Wealthy business people are more patient when making major decisions than average, probably because they can afford to wait. They don't rush into a deal, an investment, or a job without taking the time to make sure it fits with their interests and desires. Because of this, they probably say "no" to opportunities a lot more often than the average person, and may be substantially more likely to quit if things aren't going the way they expect..
I have never found wealthy people to be any less hardworking or less achievement driven than the rest of the population. In fact, I'd say they had far more of both of these characteristics than average, even when compared to managers who's careers are in their ascendancy.
But they can be really difficult to have as employees.
It's not common to come across this scenario. Usually, a wealthy business person is either high up in their existing organization's heirarchy -- and pretty much unavailable to hire -- or they're running their own show. Almost every experience I've had with the wealthy as subordinates came as the result of the acquisition of their company.
And I can tell you, handling them after the deal was done was almost always difficult.
One wealthy owner who joined our company after we bought the firm he founded turned out to be very quirky and more than a bit odd. He simply couldn't or wouldn't adapt to the changes in corporate culture that were required to make his company a part of our larger organization. Unfortunately, it seemed to do little good to talk to him. I left my position before things came to a head, but the manager didn't last long after that.
In another instance, my predecessor purchased a small manufacturing company. The senior manager there (whom we'd made quite wealthy as a result of the purchase) decided abruptly to retire. No amount of money or alternative structure could be found to entice him to stay. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky with his replacement, and the business ran off the tracks. I was never sure what the motivation was for his retirement, but clearly it was something beyond my control to change.
A few years back, I had a key opening (Controller) and found a candidate that I thought couldn't be beat in skills, demeanor, and track record. Unfortunately, he had enough money to insist on defining the job the way he wanted. When I couldn't make that work, he walked away. If he didn't have the wealth, I would have forced him into the job opening I had and he undoubtedly would have accepted the position.
In previous blog posts, I've repeatedly maintained that the manager:employer relationship is tilted in favor of the employer -- all the way from the selection process through termination. Seeing a candidate or employed manager that has options other than complaint-free compliance demonstrates the degree of tilt. If we lived in a world where the typical manager had adequate "go to hell" money, we would see a completely new set of skills and managerial techniques required to deal with situations where the manager is on a more even playing field with his employer. 23.4
Other Recent Posts:
- You Purchased a Subordinate?
- The Graying of Your Reputation
- When it's Right for You, but Wrong for the Business
- Rushing into a Recruitment
- Managerial Flip-Flops and the Flavor of the Month
- On Being Sued
- Keeping Secrets
If you are intrigued by the ideas presented in my blog posts, check out some of my other writing. Novels: LEVERAGE, INCENTIVIZE, DELIVERABLES and HEIR APPARENT. Coming soon -- PURSUING OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
Non-Fiction: NAVIGATING CORPORATE POLITICS
To the right is the cover for INCENTIVIZE. This novel is about a U.S. based mining company, and criminal activity that the protagonist (a woman by the name of Julia McCoy) uncovers at the firm's Ethiopian subsidiary. Her discover sets in motion a series of events that include, kidnapping, murder, and terrorism in the Horn of Africa.
My novels are based on extensions of 27 years of personal experiences as a senior manager in public corporations.