Most executives, at one point or another, see something that isn’t as it should be and then pretend it’s not so bad after all. What are YOU seeing but denying? And what are you gaining from the denial? A temporary sense of security? Feelings of comfort? Satisfaction from not rocking the boat? An inflated ego? Just what exactly are you getting from not dealing with the issue?
• drug and alcohol problems in themselves or employees
• health problems in themselves or employees
• poor performance: their own or an employee’s
• poor behavior/character defects: their own or an employee’s
• lack of healthy communication within the organization
• ongoing errors in judgment: their own or an employee’s
• employee dissatisfaction
• low morale
• lack of appropriate policies
• lack of employee retention
• poor relationships between key people in the organization
• philosophical differences between the chief executive and the Board
• chronic lack of follow-up either from the executive or an employee
• affairs between an executive and an employee
• failure to recognize that people in general simply don’t like the executive or a key employee
• legal issues/sheer wrongdoing
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. But it’s a reasonable start. You get the idea. Every time an executive chooses to ignore these situations, both the executive and the organization pay a price. Don’t delude yourself. There is a price to be paid, and it’s usually significant. Pretending that these kinds of things aren’t happening or continuing allows a poison to seep through the company. Whatever else you may be doing to build and enhance your place of business is either slowly or rapidly ruined by the unacceptable situations allowed to go on.
How do YOU as the executive lose? The most important thing you lose is your credibility among employees, your executive team, perhaps your Board, and the community at large (depending on what the issue is). Can you really afford to lose your most precious asset? You lose your employees’ trust. You may lose Board trust. You are viewed as weak, as someone who shies away from tough issues. Essentially, you lose people’s confidence. Credibility, trust, and confidence are difficult and even impossible to regain. Keep that in mind the next time you decide to overlook the elephant in the workplace living room. Ask yourself if you’re willing to sacrifice your career, your position, your livelihood because you won’t deal with problems and situations head-on. How does the entire organization lose? When the word is out that an executive chose to pretend that something bad wasn’t happening, employees feel insecure. They wonder what else could take place that won’t be stopped or resolved. They speculate about how awful things might get. Morale often decreases, and people frequently lose respect for the individual who is responsible for cleaning up the mess. The executive may even become the object of jokes in the cafeteria or in brief casual conversation throughout the day. The worst price for an organization as a whole is that productivity is compromised.
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