Business As Usual By Stuart Friedman

Great Leaders Don’t Reward Inappropriate BehaviorStuart Friedman, Business As Usual

November 19, 2013 – We ended the last quarter weeks ago. But the start of this new quarter is also the start of the new fiscal year for many organizations. While the year may appear over on paper, it’s never really over. You must cross the finish line and then quickly figure out what worked, what didn’t work and what needs to change going forward. Part of this has to do with what kinds of behavior in the organization its leadership chooses to reinforce and what behaviors it seeks to discourage.

Consider: The CEO of Company “A” asks several employees to plan a party for the company’s employees to celebrate a successful project. The two main organizers choose a Whirlyball event at a local fun center with food and drinks, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. The organizers arrive early to ensure the venue is set up and the food is ready on time. By 4 p.m. no employees have arrived. The organizers begin to get nervous. Did they send inaccurate information? Next, the venue manager announces that, if no one arrives within 15 minutes, their food will be served to another group.

At 4:30 p.m., the venue manager has no alternative but to give the food to the other group and prepare another tray for Company A. In a panic, one of the event planners calls the office. They learn the CEO and the rest of the staff departed at 3:45 p.m. They expect to arrive a little after 4:30 p.m., which they do. Upon arrival, the first words the CEO utters are “Where is the food? This was poorly planned. In fact, it appears as if this was done last minute.”

Leaders are parroted and imitated all the time. The party was scheduled for 3:30 p.m., yet the CEO chose to arrive more than an hour late, with most of his team following suit. He failed to realize that great leaders set the tone for the rest of the company. Their behaviors are always scrutinized and mimicked.

Maintain stature with your people by following these simple rules:
1. Demonstrate respect for others by arriving on time.
2. Gain a reputation for credibility, reliability, and dependability by doing what you say you’re going to do.
3. Always say “Please” and “Thank you” (not “Thanks,” “Sure,” or “No problem”).

Another scenario: The CEO of Company “B” wants Thanksgiving Holiday cards sent to clients, prospects, and a personal list, about 500 cards in all. The CEO wants all employees to sign the cards. About three-fourths of the way through the process, an employee decides to sign with a fake name. At first, most think it’s funny. However, the CEO is furious and demands all the cards with fake names be redone, tasking two administrative assistants to readdress the envelopes and get the new cards resigned without deviating from the original deadline.

This time, the CEO monitors the process. When errors are made, she gets angry at the assistants who are trying to redo a four-hour activity in just two. Amazingly, the person who caused the trouble by faking his signature is not reprimanded. Why? Because he is well known in the industry and considered one of the best in their job.

How many of you have “untouchables” who cause this kind of disruption, stress, and chaos? How many of you overlook the value of assistants like those above, the backbone of your company’s success?

Sure enough, a review of this individual’s file shows similar past disruptive behaviors and never a reprimand. What happens when such counter-productive behavior is tolerated? What else is this person doing that you don’t know about? How many colleagues have witnessed this person’s poor judgment and are simply afraid to come forward? What kind of effect does this have on your success? Great leaders lead ALL of their employees, valuing what each brings to the team.

As 2014 nears, it’s not time to slow down. Instead, resolve to end “business as usual:”
• Great leaders show consistent behavior toward all employees. They know if they show favoritism, they will lose top performers from an already-depleted talent pool.
• Great leaders lead by example.
• Great leaders are judicious when evaluating employee behaviors and actions. When it comes to taking corrective action, they always do the right thing.

Are YOU a great leader? It’s your choice . . .