Which is better: being or doing?

Are you someone whose career is based on how well you interact with others – what might be called “being”? Or are you someone who gets things done – “doing”?

The two are not mutually exclusive. We probably all have elements of both characteristics. Greta Thunberg is in the news, and she is probably more on the doing side of the scale.

Perhaps this accounts for some of the antagonism towards her. Much of public life seems to be filled with people who are good at being. They are easier to get on with, and strike up a more immediate rapport. Politics is full of generalists (to give them a polite name) or self-confident windbags (to be more blunt).

Traditionally, leadership roles are given to be-ers. Experts are there to be used as a resource, not to run the place. In IP Draughts’ view, do-ers can be very effective leaders. But they aren’t always given the chance. Recruitment panels are often dominated by be-ers.

The diversity agenda forces recruiters to consider people of other genders, skin colours, class and educational backgrounds, and this is good. But it is very difficult to tackle discrimination against do-ers. How do you identify and measure them? Perhaps a do-er should be asked to tackle this difficult subject.

The IP professions are full of do-ers. They rarely seem to break through into non-specialist leadership roles. Last time IP Draughts looked, there was only one IP specialist (a patent attorney) in the House of  Lords, and none in the House of Commons. Can you name any IP specialist at the head of a large organisation? There won’t be many.

IP Draughts doesn’t dismiss being as an important quality when working with other people. But it needn’t be a leader’s dominant characteristic. If you want to get things done in a thoughtful, imaginative and competent manner, you could do much worse than put an IP specialist in charge.



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