2007 saw the publication of Think Big and Kick Ass in Business and Life, by Donald Trump and Bill Zanker. I’d rather read a book titled, Think Big and Be Kick-ass.
What’s the difference between kicking ass and being kick-ass? Here’s a story of ass-kicking to show the difference.
“Kory” the loud-mouthed jerk
Long before I started helping people build thriving workplaces, I worked at a gas company. I heard that one of our project managers, let’s call him Kory, was installing ancient flow computers that could not communicate with our new control systems.
Since I was responsible for our technology standards, I had to tell Kory that his flow computers were a problem.
Kory was a giant jerk and my ass-kicking manager’s favorite henchman. Just before I got to Kory’s office, I met him in the hallway. Before I could finish my first sentence, Kory ripped into me.
Of course he called me stupid and useless. And yes, he told me to do things to myself. But best of all, he said everything so loud that most of the office heard him. Why was that so great?
It was great because I had enough witnesses to support an effective complaint. Most of my coworkers had already been bullied and burned by Kory, so after they heard Kory lay into me, they offered to back me up.
I wrote an email to my manager, let’s call him Gary. We met later that day and the first thing Gary said was, “You know, Tom, there’s a lot of people around here who need a good ass-kicking. Kory is the right guy to do it.”
Justifying an ass-kicking workplace
In ass-kicking workplaces,
- Competition and confrontation are valued over collaboration and consideration
- Popularity and charisma are valued over performance and character
- Workers make bad decisions, but leaders never make bad decisions, only difficult ones
- Leaders believe, “If you’re not with us, you’re against us”
Leaders who support ass-kicking,
- Lack the courage, skill and commitment to directly engage with their workforce
- Believe only poor performers will suffer any ass-kicking
- Justify their ass-kicking as a fatherly sternness
- Eventually throw the ass-kicker under the bus
Kick-ass is the way to go
The Urban Dictionary defines kick-ass as something that’s really, incredibly awesome.
The only people who would describe an ass-kicking workplace as really, incredibly awesome are the ass-kickers and their leaders.
In a kick-ass workplace,
- Everybody works hard and works together
- Everyone feels respected and liked
- Everyone knows they are valued for their contribution and their individuality
- Workers make the organization successful because the owners and leaders of the organization make the workers successful
I call these kick-ass workplaces thriving organizations.
What happened to Kory and Gary?
My email to Gary started a giant shitstorm. Later, I heard that the only reason Gary came to my office was because he was afraid the email would be sent to his boss, or worse, outside of the company.
I told Gary that the only person that needed his ass kicked was Kory, and Kory’s ass needed to be kicked out the door. Gary left my office and I thought, for sure, I’d be fired.
A few days later, Gary’s boss, our Vice President, came to my office. He apologized for letting Kory and Gary create such a toxic workplace. Then, he said that he held himself responsible for what had happened. That’s a leader.
Kory was soon shown the door. When another company bought us a year later, Gary wasn’t offered a job. Kory and Gary got their asses kicked.
Kick-ass always trumps ass-kicking
And since I’m writing about what trumps what, I wonder if Donald Trump would have given his book a different title if he knew that being kick-ass is way better than kicking ass.
I want to know about your kick-ass and ass-kicking experiences at work. Please leave a comment below or message me on social media. You can connect with me on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Also, please share this article and subscribe to the Work Feels Good blog to read more.