I have been fascinated by “The Vikings” TV show on the History Channel. The hero is a gung ho guy named Ragnar. Ragnar is an “intrapreneur”. An intrapreneur is an employee who shows qualities of an entrepreneur: lots of initiative and creativity, is a risk taker, is opinionated, thinks
outside the box. You would think most managers would be thrilled with an employee like this, but unfortunately some feel threatened. This sure is the case with Ragnar’s boss, the Earl Haraldson!
I just watched an episode and have been obsessing about all the lessons in it that can be applied to the concept of employee engagement! In this episode Ragnar is at a “staff meeting” where planning is being done for the upcoming plundering season.
Basically, Ragnar “stepped in it”. In addition, his boss reacted poorly to his employee’s demonstration of initiative. Don’t make the mistakes Ragnar and Earl Haraldson made !
– Ragnar assumed that his initiative would be appreciated. In a meeting, he challenged Earl Haraldson’s old idea that they go east to plunder- same old, same old! Ragnar believed there were greater opportunities west. It had never been done before. Earl Haraldson was not only skeptical, but chastised Ragnar for challenging his authority in front of the other “staff”. He ordered him to comply! Or else!
– Ragnar went west anyway and came back with great treasure and proudly presented it all to his boss. He made the assumption
that the Earl would forgive the transgression as the outcome was so beneficial for the “company” and for the company’s future. Wrong! Ragnar failed to read the room! He did not have a working knowledge of social styles. He failed to see that his boss’s own ego was more important than the good of the company or community. He assumed that everyone perceives things the way he does.
– Ragnar failed to anticipate all possible outcomes. He brought the plunder back in good faith. Unfortunately, Earl Haraldson kept it all and no one got their share!
Potentially, Ragnar could have handled things in a way that gave him a better chance of getting “buy in” from his boss. He could have possibly obtained a “win-win” outcome for himself and the company by employing different strategies.
Fortunately in our modern world of work, the outcome for missteps is not as drastic as in Ragnar’s world! Now we know where the saying “he got the ax” comes from! However, there are often political consequences.
Great career management requires learning as many strategies as possible to navigate the world of work! The voyage continues…