The following is posted at Forbes blogs Work in Progress:
There is a fine line balancing the expertise leaders may have in a specific area with the trust those leaders have in the experts they have hired. There is no reason for a CEO to micromanage a major conglomerate if everyone from the mail room to the Board of Directors is supposed to unite with the company’s mission and perform in an ethical manner.
Call me crazy but leaders cannot function on a global scale if they worry about every single tiny detail in the business. We would all have 2-4 people start-up companies if that was the case (and probably still not trust those people). I am not condoning the behavior of those journalists, but I am saying it is not just likely, but expected, that the CEO of the company isn’t worrying about how many pads of Post-It® notes you stole from the office supplies stash or if you used your office phone for personal calls. That’s the job of the layers of managers between you and the CEO.
Unethical behavior is so prevalent in business, MBA programs are constantly adding courses on ethics and social responsibility to their curricula. And yet they face students who may be so jaded that we just assume the worst in people. And the worst might be why they’re joining business in the first place.
When chaos hits a company due to scandal, it is easy to demand heads. We want the top people to resign and walk away with shame in the public eye. Let the courts and public opinion cast the final sentence and have someone else come in and fix the problems.
However, we should be asking for people to not only be leaders but to also be accountable for what happens next. An individual may have been just as blindsided by someone’s poor decision as the rest of the world, but it is what happens next that we need to really watch. Did the individual wash their hands of the situation? Did he or she take ownership of the failures of those he may represent?
In branding, any employee of a company is a spokesperson for that brand. That is why social media policies are asking people to include disclaimers that your personal opinion does not represent that of your employer. It could go backwards as well: a company’s position does not represent that of an employee’s behavior. It is important through honesty and cooperation that we push organizations such as News Corp. not to just determine what went wrong, but to set the path of what to do right.
If we are not asking for model behavior and just condemning, we will only learn what is wrong. We will not know what to look up to.
Image by AFP/Getty Images via @daylife