Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Management lessons from a spy

This might sound tiresome but it appears, from a book written by a spy (a lady), that there might be a lesson or two in management that spies -of all people- have to offer. Or so Lucy Kellaway suggests in her review in the FT. And, no, the lesson is not that you gun down bad guys using a silencer.

What can spy teach us? One thing seems obvious: observe people carefully. They have to do this for a living (and sometimes to save their own lives); most of us couldn't care less.

Ok, what else? Here a couple of points that Kellaway highlights that might be useful:

Less obvious but no less valuable is her tip for job candidates: get the interviewer to do most of the talking and then hang on their every word. As hard­ly anyone can resist talking about themselves to a rapt audience, a job offer is almost bound to follow.

To the public speaker and the salesman, Carleson has further good advice: never rely on a script and never learn what you are going to say off by heart. When you do this you use a different tone of voice, go on to autopilot and all trust is lost in an instant. Carleson is right. I have done this, but never again.

But the main lesson is the one mentioned at the outset, namely, watch people carefully to catch their weaknesses:
....and for this there are some common denominators: “ . . . ego, money, ego, ego . . . ego, ego, ego.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Brilliant post ...many thanks; they seldom teach this at IIM:)

Best wishes