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My Mentor: Dr. Evil April 6, 2009

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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It is often said that if you want to succeed in any position, find a mentor that will provide crucial advice and valuable feedback.  Choose wisely, and you get a significant advantage in finding success, no matter what your goal.

As leaders we need to find mentors.  Learning by example makes sense for leaders, so it helps to find leaders we admire.  My top choice for a leader that offers tremendous learning opportunities: Dr. Evil.

You may snicker, but the arch-nemesis from the trilogy of Austin Powers movies is a textbook case study for all leaders.  Consider:

  • Dr. Evil has a strong second in command.  His lieutenant, Number Two, quietly provides advice and guidance when needed.  He also keeps things running in Dr. Evil’s absence, keeping the Evil franchise successful even when Dr. Evil is cryogenically frozen for decades.  The lesson? Every leader needs trusted team members to ensure that the day-to-day tactical work gets done.
  • Unfortunately, Number Two is so effective he winds up making more money through legitimate enterprises than Dr. Evil ever would through evil, their core business.  As you would expect, this kind of deviation from the strategic plan angers Dr. Evil.  The lesson? Stay true to your vision, and don’t be distracted by lesser achievements.
  • Dr. Evil thinks big.  He has huge plans to rule the world, and repeatedly sets in place grandiose schemes to accomplish his goal.  Unfortunately, he often does a poor job of conveying his vision to his minions, yielding mixed results and some level of disrespect from his team.  His lack of direct knowledge of market conditions as it relates to appropriate world ransom amounts is a continual frustration.  The lesson? Develop a clear vision and communicate it effectively and repeatedly.  Ensure your vision is aligned with external events as they develop and change over time.
  • Even with a clear vision, leaders must sometimes compromise.  Dr. Evil is no exception. Although his plan to destroy Austin Powers using sharks with “lasers” affixed to their heads is stymied by the sharks being considered an endangered species, Dr. Evil is willing to settle for intemperate mutant sea bass.  The results should be the same, although with less dramatic flair.  The lesson? Know when to compromise so that your ultimate goal is still achieved.
  • Dr. Evil has a difficult relationship with his teenage son, Scott.  Dr. Evil’s lifelong dedication to world domination has left little time for effective parenting, and it shows in his day-to-day interaction with Scott.  The lesson? Although good leaders put in long hours to be successful, always make time for your family.  As rewarding as our jobs may be, the joys of family are priceless.
  • Dr. Evil knows that great success only comes with tremendous willpower and perseverance.   He never gives up, no matter what the setback. In spite of demoralizing events early in his life and later failure at the hands of Austin Powers, Dr. Evil stays focused on the evil tasks at hand.  Often, he is the only one who believes that he will succeed, keeping his head when those around him are losing theirs. The lesson? Never give up, and provide a calming influence to those around you during tough times.
  • As befitting a villain of his stature, Dr. Evil has a series of enviable lairs, including a volcano, a moon base, and a submarine shaped like himself.  While most leaders today do not enjoy such swank surroundings, we can still create an environment that suits our needs.  The lesson? Create a work space that enhances your vision and supports your team, allowing them to be more successful.

Tongue in cheek? A little. Valuable lessons?  You bet.  When you are confronted with your next leadership challenge, ask yourself, “What would Dr. Evil do?”  The answer may be more useful than you think.


1. Susan Mazza - April 6, 2009

Excellent lessons indeed. Dr Evil now has my attention in ways I never imagined!

2. Idiot Or Thief? « The Effective CIO - April 24, 2009

[…] I understand that certain miscreants might uses lasers for nefarious purposes, but that usually involves sharks.  I am honest, long-term customer that wants to be treated that way.  For goodness sake, I […]

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