Who is the Adventurer Executive?

Steve Pruneau

In our companies and in our lives we have people around us whose main aspiration is economic survival. For various reasons (the situation or the person or both) economic survival and protecting one’s own job is the goal. I get that. It’s normal.

Sometimes that goal is pursued with quiet “under the radar” tip-toe steps around potential mistakes, sometimes with vicious oppression. And of course there is every variation between.

Vintage accountant office 640x480When an executive’s desire for economic security is caught between the president, board or shareholder demands to fix the business, improve the business, give us a road map, a plan… and his own or her own private frightening uncertainty about what to deliver or how, then an exploratory meeting with a prominent executive job protection service is usually in order.

The advisory side of prestigious audit firms are dressed in grandeur and excellence meant to entice us into believing they will bring the very finest consultants that money can hire. The reason for engaging said advisory services is usually very high minded “strategic”, “business transformation”, highly conceptual [put your expletive here].

The first job of management consultants from audit firms is to protect the job of the executive sponsor who hired them. The second job, is to fulfill the executive sponsor’s engagement request by producing presentations, analysis, documents, plans that justify the executive sponsor’s continued value in the company. Notice those consultants try not to associate themselves too closely with execution of plans (because that’s where the real work and real skill comes into play, and where things can go badly). This is why we often see sub-contractor firms, other vendors, brought in to deliver.

We’ve seen this kind of critique done before, so why are we covering it here?

Because the Adventurer Executive isn’t about defensive behavior and job protection. We are about getting it done. The Adventurer Executive advances his or her career using accomplishments as currency, each one used to acquire a bigger and better one next time. We are in business for more than a job. We are in it for the challenge, the game of business and the rewards of winning. Of course many of us are also in business to make a difference, to change the world for better and that’s the ultimate adventure.

Adventurer_Executive_kayak_640x480The Adventurer Executive in any personality type.

Magnetic, social, engaging. Quiet, modest, determined. We invoke an image of someone who lives life to the fullest, whether that is something visible like kayaking or something less visible leading an organization or serving on the board of an organization whose mission is important to you. But it takes a unique combination of personal assets AND company situation for the Adventurer Executive to emerge. We could have someone with plenty of self-confidence, thrives on accomplishment and clearly understands what ought to be done to improve the business or seize the next opportunity. However s/he could be constrained by a company culture of political in-fighting, constant peer to peer criticism and squabbling over organizational turf. We could also have a relatively healthy company culture with simplified organizational structure and an iterative approach to execution, but an executive who doesn’t have a clear vision of what could be done next to continue growing the business or who is more concerned about job security than accomplishment. In both of these scenarios, we do not yet have an Adventurer Executive. We want you to get there.

The Adventure Executive is someone who:

  • Has freedom within the company to do what needs to be done.
  • Understands the business and has a clear view of what ought to be done.
  • Thrives on accomplishment.

Great if you are already an Adventurer Executive. You have found yourself with the personal assents AND a good business situation in which to achieve success. You may have all the attributes of an Adventurer Executive and are looking to put yourself into the c-suite of a company where you can work the way you so deeply want now.

Why are we focusing on the Adventurer Executive?

There have always been Adventurer Executives among us. And there have always been a lucky few employees who work in teams led by Adventurer Executives. What is different is, we are in a moment of social evolution when so many people hunger for accomplishment. As a work culture, we are separating ourselves like zebra and wildebeest into distinct herds. We are naturally choosing the way we want to work and the leaders with whom we want to work.

Adventurer_Executive_raft_480x640This transition creates a problem for the Adventurer Executive. Like everyone else, Adventurer Executives have projects and corporate initiatives that need to be delivered. Increasingly, these cannot be delivered only by people on the company roster and instead we must reach outside the organization to engage consultants.

Our economy is still dominated by 20th century ideas about management and running a traditional hierarchical corporate organization. The consulting business is built mostly around those 20th century management concepts, and protecting the executive sponsor. For Adventurer Executives who chafe at the idea of bureaucratic waste in traditional management consulting, where are the people who want to get it done? Who we can trust to get it done?

This post is meant to match you, the Adventurer Executive with people who also thrive on accomplishment. So, who are the zebras? Independent Consultants. They chafe against constraints of traditional employment. They loathe corporate politics. Independent Consultants are the Adventurer Executive’s trump cards who can get it done.

Steve Pruneau leads executives and business owners to solve the gap between variable revenue and a fixed workforce. He is the first consultant at Free Agent Source. As a founder, Steve engages the broader community of corporate clients, entrepreneurs, startups and consultants. He manages company operations and lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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