The Blunt Executive Review Tool

Let’s do a thought experiment.

Think of all the executive leaders in your company, which you know and you have worked with.

Are there any leaders in this group, of which you don’t have the foggiest ideas how they got there?

If there are any, how would you explain this?

Let me introduce the Blunt Executive Review Tool (BERT).


In this tool, we review leaders on two dimensions.

The first dimension is Getting Results: How much they contribute to the strategic goals of the company.

The second dimension is Looking The Part: The appearance, mannerism, habits, language, and behaviors you expect from your leaders.

Naturally, looking the part is different for different types of organizations. T-shirts are a natural outfit in start-ups, designer suits would be more common with investment bankers.


The four categories which we find in our BERT are:

  1. The Untouchables. These are leaders which don’t achieve results and don’t look the part. They working in the organization because of family ties, compliance quotas, legal requirements, or they posses compromising pictures of important people. I call them untouchables, because they are part of the Nomenklatura and are immune to being fired.
  2. The Imposters. These leaders look the part, but don’t get results. They tend to stay in their jobs only briefly, and always rotate to other organizations just before they are found out. 
  3. The Effective Executives. They get results. They look the part. They are the backbone of any company. They are reliable, predictable and consistent.
  4. The Super Talents. They get results, but don’t look the part. They are …. different.     

In turbulent times, the focus of any organization should be to spot and nurture your Super Talents.

Super Talents

Here is why: Imagine that the future of your company depends on marketing a new product. You can choose between two reputable marketing executives with a track record of great achievement. One looks like a successful marketeer (great hair, tailored clothes, polished speech), the other doesn’t (unkempt hair, ill fitting clothes, mumbles and is difficult to understand).

Which one would you pick?I would pick the marketing executive which doesn’t look a successful marketing executive. The reason is that he or she is successful in spite of negative appearances. It means that he or she must be very good.

These people are your real Super Talents.

Which Super Talents are currently operating under the radar in your organization?

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