The Diva

Diva CEO's expect the company to revolve around them, rather than them serving the interests of the firm's stakeholders.  Divas come in a rather wide variety of forms -- from the high profile community pillar, to the news hog, to the budding politician.  They do, however have a few things in common:

  • Divas focus on what's in it for them.
  • Divas neglect internal relationships in favor of external ones.
  • Divas think employees should feel honored to be able to work with them.
  • Divas often (but not always) surround themselves with sycophants.
  • Divas generally don't actually run the organization.  They are the outward face, and need to be paired with an inside manager to make things function properly.  In my observation, this is often a COO or CFO.

Why do they do this?  It's difficult to know for sure what is going on inside a Diva's head, but I theorize somewhere deep inside is a belief they don't deserve to be where they are.  Diva behaviors produce a constant stream of validation from internal and exernal sources which pacify these doubts.  Of course, some may simply love the attention and fame/fortune attainable as a business leader, and engage in all the self-promotion as a way to further grow that attention.

Employees will quickly learn that praise for their boss'es brilliance, rather than anything remotely resembling criticism, is a company requirement.  Some employees will be confused by the figurehead who seems to be detached from the day-to-day operation of the business, but most will figure out quickly it's the inside manager actually makes the business run and perform.  The occassional eye roll will accompany some of the more outlandish stunts or statements made by a Diva, but criticism will be sparse, as it isn't well tolerated.  Divas do not motivate employees, as their actions and statements almost always seem to have a self-serving undercurrent, and their gaze is directed out rather than inside.

Still, given all the damage that can be caused by some of the extreme types of leadership, Divas are relatively harmless.  They stay out of the way of the achievers and performers in the organization, and tend to leave the daily management task to others.  As long as the key inside manager is not also an extreme leader, the company can generally tolerate the Diva quite well.