I have never been one to dive too deep into politics, mainly because my belief is to take care of others because it is the right thing to do, not for any personal gain. Interestingly enough, caring for others first generally produces greater results for me personally in the long run. So, it works out!
But the recent Presidential election caused me to consider this question, or issue. Is it more important to support the President or the Presidency? We live in a country where we are free to make our own decisions, speak with our own voice, and elect our leadership. How then, or why, do so many choose to protest against our President, to the point of protesting during his inauguration, fighting, or shunning others for supporting him? Again, freedom of speech allows protestors to voice their discontent. But why do it in this way?
I am not making a political stance here. This is about supporting the right to choose, the right to vote. As a country, we elected President Trump, to lead our country for the next 4 years. To me, it would be more practical to support the Presidency, the idea of democracy and a freedom to choose, than to protest just because we can. Whether you like him or not, Mr. Trump is our President, our Commander in Chief, our leader. Support the Presidency if you cannot support the President. Protesting our leaders seems more like protesting against our right to choose. After all, we did choose him, so let’s all support him, at least what he represents – freedom.
This was a brief post, but it is a simple idea – support freedom.
Our last article discussed the CEO or other senior leaders as the “fall guy” for organizational mistakes. Now that a mistake has occurred, willful negligence or an unintentional accident, what happens now? How does the organization or individual recover? As I stated several times in a past article, it depends.
It depends on the severity of the mistake, presence of intentionality, and so on. It also depends on the culture of the population affected and that of the offending individual or organization. Does the organization have a history of making offensive mistakes? Does the individual have a reputation of repeat acts of indiscretion?
Here are some things that organizations and individuals can do to help repair their image.
An apology goes a long way – but only so far and so often. Apologize after losing you cool once during a meeting and you may be fine. If you have a history of explosive rage, you may find yourself updating your resume and a trunk full of what was once in your desk. Organizations can apologize too. This may be a result of (un)intentionally misleading customers and an apology could be in the form of a Tweet, Facebook post, or even a news announcement. A personal phone call could do the trick as well.
Make amends through financial compensation, repairing what was damaged, replacing what was lost, or offering something at a steep discount or free. Organizations do this often. When an auto manufacturer identifies a malfunctioning seat-belt, they offer free replacement and may even offer a rental car if needed – at no cost to the customer. I once offended (unintentionally) a colleague of mine and was able to buy them a cup of coffee and talk it over. In the end, we were both fine without any additional fall-out.
Now, this may sound counter-intuitive, but it may be appropriate in some cases. The issue may seem so severe at the time, but in reality, it was minute. Depending on the severity of the mistake, and the results, the best decision may be to do nothing and let the issue just fizzle out on its own. I have done this at times, and it works ok. Usually when I do nothing, it is only temporary as I end up following my “nothing” with an apology later.
For the individual, this may mean leaving a position, changing employers, or even starting a new career. For the organization, this could result in a product realignment or disbandment, adjusting services offered, or even just policy and/or process changes.
These are not all-inclusive, just a few ideas to get you thinking. What works for you? Any recommendations, please let us know.
Jared W. Snow
“The captain must go down with the ship” is a phrase associated with the captain of a sinking ship. In this sense, the captain has an obligation (commitment) to stay on board the ship until the last passenger is rescued. If passengers cannot be rescued, the captain goes down with the ship. Today, this idiom often crosses over to organizational culture, requiring the “captain” of the organization (usually the CEO) or senior leader of the department (VP, Director, etc.) to accept responsibility for their respective organizations decisions. This may result in an abrupt resignation or termination – sometimes with a nice golden parachute.
While it is logically sound that the senior leader, whether it be the ship captain or company CEO, does their best to faithfully serve their organization (or passengers), is it right to make them go down with the ship or lose their position in the organization… for a mistake? What if they had no idea there was an issue until it was beyond their control? What if they truly are just the scapegoat?
In the case of the Volkswagen emission scandal that erupted in September of 2015, then CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned and the suspension of 3 brand and research head developers followed. It was found that the automaker developed special programming that intentionally mislead emissions tests in many of their turbo diesel vehicles. Find out more here.
The sinking ship concept places the CEO as “the fall guy” showing how the organization “took action” to rectify the issue by terminating the CEO or an abrupt resignation by the CEO. If the CEO had no knowledge of the issue, should he resign or be terminated? An argument for this would be the CEO should have known, and if she did not, the CEO should be terminated for their inability to lead the organization. This may or may not be the issue.
The one thing that bothers me, is our (cultures) need to place blame. Why should the CEO resign if the issue was 2 or 3 levels beneath them? Wouldn’t correcting the root cause or terminating the scandalous individual be enough? For some reason, it appears that our society has the need to blame someone or we feel an injustice has occurred. Now, I am not saying that termination is an inappropriate action. Intentional and willful negligence and deceit requires a heavier punishment than say, an honest mistake. Pointing the finger makes us feel better. Instead, I propose we correct the issue, care for people, and make amends for our mistakes – intentional or not.
What happens next? Can the organization or individual recover from their mistake? Check out our next article discussing personal and organizational image – recovering from a mistake.
Jared W. Snow
As a leader, you will face many challenging situations in which you will need to make difficult decisions. It is up to you to make decisions for yourself, your organization, and for those that follow you. There are often times in which your morals and ethics will be challenged, particularly when confronted or pressured by your leaders with a strong inclination to make a decision in a certain direction. Often, decisions need to be made quickly in order to ensure mission success. Other times, difficult decisions simply need to be made. In any situation, it is imperative to keep in mind that the right decision does not necessarily mean the easiest. Although a bit cliché, the adage fits – choose the difficult right over the easy wrong.
Ethics and morals are often used as synonyms for each other. Some would argue that an individual’s morals differ from their ethics. Morals are often associated with an indivuals perspective and personal beliefs such as religion and values. Ethics are often defined within a group or organization as a set of rules and guidelines to follow. Still, each of us has our own set of rules, our personal ethics and morals, which define our character. Abiding by this set of rules will ensure that an individual’s character is not discredited. Regardless of what you and I call them, we all have our own personal set of rules. At the end of the day, we must live with the decisions that we make. If I end my day knowing that my decisions have not discredited my character, I have had a good day regardless of the outcome.
The right, more difficult decision, may challenge you in many ways. For some this may be a personal sacrifice such as staying late at the office or forgoing a bonus or raise in order to retain an employee or award a stellar employee with that bonus or raise. Others may face a more physical challenge such as enduring hardships and physical strains such as deployments, extended periods of sleep deprivation to ensure mission success, and family separation to get the job done. For some this may be an emotional challenge such as confronting a friend, colleague, or leader who are making unethical or immoral decisions. Regardless of the situation, the difficult right is still right.
A retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer Four provided some simple sound advice when I was challenged with a tough decision. Make the right decision and the rest will work itself out. Some situations may work themselves out in ways that you had not desired; you may miss the bonus, experience physical pain, or anger your supervisor, but your character will remain.
What will you choose?
Jared W. Snow