Tower of power = a tower of pain

 In Business Coaching, Business Strategy

So many companies allow certain employees to become little ‘towers of power’, which the CEO, (often through gritted teeth), then allows them the power to control the company, because they are ‘indispensable’. Of course, they are not indispensable, and they are actually the handbrake to progress, profit and are the arch enemy of a good culture.

I often warn the CEO when I start working with a new company, that the team will change, and often I get the comment back ‘Of course yes, but you have to understand ‘so-and-so’ is really indispensable; he/she is amazing, and we just couldn’t do without her/him.’ I nod politely and think so there is a major ‘tower of power’, who has the CEO by the proverbials, and is effectually running the company.


Do these ‘towers of power’ change? Almost never has been my experience, especially if they have been allowed to run loose for many years.

It is truly scary the damage they do to organisations. One employee at a client I worked with, conservatively I reckoned cost the company well over a million dollars. Helped herself to a healthy pay rise and bonus each year she was there, and controlled everything with a grip of iron. She decided when suppliers were paid, who the company purchased from, and anyone who was brave enough to question anything, was lined up for HR to get rid of. If that didn’t work, a quiet word with the CEO usually did the trick – as he was terrified of the tower of power.

Curiously, I have seen the Dealer Principal of a large automotive dealership terrified of disobeying the head detailer! The head detailer had the qualifications of being able to wash a car reasonably well, and satirically I wonder how that qualified him to run a Car Dealership. Hmm.. is this common? You tell me, and let me see if I just happened to have tripped across an unusually large number of these towers of power.

So how do you prevent this happening? I was inspired from a terrific book I read recently, written by someone who is not a gum bumper, but actually walks the walk, and runs a successful company, which kind of helps! Joy Inc.. by Rich Sheridan, and his methodology of sharing knowledge meets with my experience. He rotates his team on a weekly basis in order for knowledge to be shared, and all the employees grow, and nobody becomes a little or worse still, great ‘tower of power’. They work in pairs for a week, then change team.

When you work in a company for a long time, it is easy not to recognise these ‘towers of power’ until they have established themselves in what appears to be an impossible situation or ‘too-hard-basket’ to deal with.

It is too difficult on your own, and that is what we come in and fix. Carefully.

Want to know more? Email me. (I am one of these people who actually reads and responds to emails promptly!)

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