Blog: Why James Bond Cannot Be ‘M’


Why James Bond Cannot Be ‘M’

Ever thought about why James Bond is still working for M?
Why James Bond Cannot Be ‘M’

Doers cannot become thinkers overnight. So if James Bond aspires to become M, it would take planning, work and some individual initiative!

His success and feats of valor are admittedly awesome. He always – eventually – succeeds in his missions! However, one can’t help wondering why he’s not been promoted. Why is it that James Bond still reports to M.

Maybe he likes being a solid individual contributor. Maybe it’s the thrill of winning in the VUCA environments he works in. Maybe its the irresistibly attractive perks, the gadgets. Or the company car policy…

Well, the reality is that in a career spanning over 60 years, James Bond has never had a Development Plan!

Hey, this cannot go on forever! Like any other employee, Bond needs to think ahead. While his vast field experience is impressive, it’s not enough to bode the assumption that he would make a good M.

In fact, if James got promoted today, he’d make a terrible M!

So before his biological clock ticks him out of the equation, let us take it upon ourselves to suggest a development plan for James Bond. Better late than never, what!  

What JB should keep doing – existing traits that he will need in his next role:

1. Result Orientation: M is hugely result oriented. Every mission has a clearly defined outcome. As a successful operative, James has honed this trait to a fine art. He always achieves the desired results. His result orientation is an asset — a vital expectation of the powers that direct M. 

2. Strategic Focus: In the VUCA environment that M operates in, it is important to stay focused on the strategy. Despite the paucity of available facts, Bond has the ability to successfully assess the situation and define the enemy, his competition – other agencies seeking the same prize – and the prize itself. His strategic focus unearths vital information that helps M direct the mission and manage upwards. M’s bosses need a steady feed of accurate information exclusively related to the mission.

3. Personal Integrity: Bond’s personal integrity is very high. He is constantly exposed to unbelievable wealth with ample temptation – and opportunity – to fast-track personal financial goals. Yet he stays loyal to MI6 and his job. At M’s level, this is vital. Leaders with poor integrity jeopardize…everything.

Development areas Bond should work on – M’s critical competencies:

1. Networking and partnerships: M maintains an aggressive, yet civil, relationship with her own ecosystem: her bosses, senior bureaucrats, Chiefs of Military Staff, heads of other Intelligence agencies that MI6 competes with. James Bond’s relationships are tactical and usually ‘short-lived’. Besides, despite his personal charm, he is often as tactful as a tank… Success at senior leadership levels is dependent on a powerful and accessible network, long-term partnerships and a large dollop of diplomacy! 

2. Process Efficiency: When impacting several billion dollars – large economies, the entire world – a few hundred million dollars in collateral damage seems like a small price to pay. And Bond generously pays it! Trails of destruction of people, property and the environment follow him everywhere. He also blatantly makes very expensive mistakes, something that frustrates and annoys M. She knows that sooner or later, she will be rapped on her knuckles and commanded to manage her costs better. If James Bond wants that job, he has to demonstrate better process efficiencies and prove he can do better!

3. Technology: Q – or the Quartermaster – spends an entire lifetime developing the latest technology to make Bond more effective in the field. Yet Bond shows scarce respect for Q as well as the gadgets that save his life. True, technology is getting more and more user friendly. Still, as the next M, Bond needs to stay ahead of the game. If he is to strategically – and cost effectively – deploy technology appropriate to the missions he runs, he needs to increase the depth of his technical knowledge. Being less flippant would help too!

4. People and Diversity: A loner, Bond has never had people directly reporting to him. Though he’s dipped his fingers into various departments to obtain information, back up support, etc. Worse, he requisitions his resources tactically and in times of need only. He needs practice in managing People. He should shadow M in the other missions she manages. It would give him the insights on how she manages her team. How she motivates, trusts, buffers, yet even punishes the errant ones, when necessary. Critically Bond needs to develop respect for diversity of race, culture and gender – particularly the last.

James Bond’s transition from a permanent doer to a big-picture thinker could end a successful movie series.

But what about other solid individual contributors, in our workplaces? Leaders should identify and move them ahead? Or they’ll, remain ‘bonded’ to their roles, reporting to M…forever!

Disclaimer: This is a contributed post. The statements, opinions and data contained are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of People Matters and the editor(s).

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Topics: Watercooler, Culture, Life @ Work

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