When things go wrong
Any leader worth their salt understands that when things go wrong you have to take responsibility. How you take responsibility reveals a lot about your character as a leader.
This week I received an email from a CEO whose company had violated some LinkedIn policies by doing outbound marketing to individuals utilizing several group lists.
With “great regret” the CEO sent an email titled “Public Apology.” In it he took personal responsibility for the misstep and ardently apologized for the break of social media protocol.
That was all good and, even though I was not affected, I thought the gentleman was doing what he should be doing.
But then, I kept reading.
He said that he told his entire internal marketing team “not to come in on Monday.” Then, he announced after some thought he was firing the entire marketing team, as well as the research team. He claimed that all of this was necessary to develop a different culture in his company.
I about fell out of my chair. The CEO created the culture. The violation of protocol resulted from the very aggressive culture he had created – and he had failed to put appropriate boundaries around his team.
They didn’t screw up, he did. His team shouldn’t be punished. If anyone should be it is the CEO.
While initially the apology email caught my interest because it seemed like such a bold and appropriate action, in the end my opinion of the CEO and his organization tanked seriously because of how he handled the situation.
If he felt someone needed to be punished he should have done something like donate a month of his pay to a charity or something that impacted him, not his employees.
We all want our employees to engage. But it can’t and shouldn’t be a free-for-all. As leaders we set the context for that engagement. When a whole department or team gets off track, the failure is ours as leaders, not our people.