(This post will make more sense if you're familiar with the TV series 24 starring Kiefer Sutherland as terrorist-fighter Jack Bauer. We’re new viewers currently watching season three on Netflix.)
Jack Bauer is a specialist you hope you never need. He feels that how doesn’t matter when there’s a why. When he thinks he's right, try stopping him. He may not ask for permission now or forgiveness later.
As Your BossImagine Jack on a routine day. Picture him answering emails or folding the laundry.
If you work for Jack (or Steve Jobs), count on ever-changing priorities with unrealistic deadlines. Don't count on going home on time or maintaining personal relationships with your family.
Jack has your back though. He protects his team by taking responsibility for their mistakes. That's leadership. That's a way to build lasting loyalty. Jack doesn't hold grudges (though will make exceptions if his family members get threatened or killed). He doesn’t keep reminding you of your past mistakes.
As Your Employee
Jack works hard for 24 hours (without coffee or yawning) and then takes long breaks. He's moody. He's unreliable. He doesn't follow orders. He plays favorites. He ignores social conventions like politeness. He's demanding of his bosses, giving them orders of the "Just Do It" kind. He shouts. He — here's a shocker — uses violence against co-workers following their orders.
Jack doesn't follow the chain of command. To save time, he talks directly to the President.
Jack uses employer resources for personal reasons like picking up daughter Kim from the police station (and not just once).
What Saves JackWe forgive a lot if we get what we want. Jacks track record saves him. He's versatile. He adapts. He delivers results on mission critical projects. He takes calculated risks. His personal interests (like staying alive) don't get in the way of making the right decision for his employers and society.
Even Jack's non-supporters know there are times they need him. They'll tolerate him because he goes beyond the limits of what anyone could reasonably expect.
Be Like JackLet's take lessons from Jack.
- Keep learning: go beyond the "10,000 hour rule" because the next 24 hours won't be like the last. Jack knows how to set the email signature on his smartphone and finish a 30 second infomercial in 30 seconds.
- Keep delivering results: Jack doesn't rest on his past achievements. He keeps proving himself, which prompts others to stretch themselves.
- Work on projects that matter: Jack isn't who you'd call to a routine staff meeting
- Go beyond your limits: that's how you find your limits and stretch them
- Take chances: Jack doesn't know what might happen in the next moment but proceeds anyway
- Act on your convictions: there are things Jack refuses to do because they're wrong. What about you?
- Have a compelling cause: Jack fights to save innocent lives. What are you fighting for? How much do you care?