Business People Behaving badly; why more executives need to take lessons from Miss Manners

Forget best practices. Here are some examples of worst practices in leadership, and business etiquette.

In my consulting business I
help transform people into leaders that builds organizations where people love
to do their best work and customers love to do business. In order to be that
kind of leader, a person needs to care about other people and set examples by
behavior. While I often write about best practices and interview leaders who do
that, I decided to give examples I’ve heard that exemplify worst practices of doing


1-   A large business wants to be known as supporting small
businesses and diversity suppliers. The large business orders a large amount of
products from the smaller business, and then doesn’t pay for over sixty days.
The CEO of the small business, contacts the CEO of the large business, who
doesn’t respond directly, but has her assistant refers the small business CEO
to someone in accounting who says they never got an invoice. As a small business
owner with only 24 employees, having go wait for payment can impact their day
to day resources and ordering more inventory.

    Supporting small business?
More like starving a small business.

2-   Executive Director of a non-profit employs a
consultant to design and deliver a workshop on leadership. The program is an
amazing success. The Executive Director, tells the consultant he has a grant
for the program and agreed to pay the consultant within seven days. Seven days
pass, and the consultant hasn’t been paid. When the consultant reaches the
Executive Director, the executive director makes excuses and then finally tells
him that he still hasn’t received the grant. He had made the payment agreement
because he “thought” it would get there in time.


    The organization may have
been a non-profit, but it didn’t mean that people
they employed had to be personally non-profit.

3-   A hotel chain that is known for the way it cares about
its employees and customers had a national conference to share best practices
in customer service. They are leaders in making guests feel welcome and helping
employees build careers.

    Lunch was served in boxes. There were at least fifty extra lunches stacked on a table in the
lobby. A guest mistakenly thought the lunches were for the guests
and took one. As he was walking away, one of the hotel managers from another
property yelled out and said, “Hey, do you work here?” The guest didn’t know what to say. When he didn’t respond, the manager, walked up to him and said, “put that lunch back, in front of everyone in the lobby.


   That manager must have had the flu the day, they told new managers to make
sure they took special care of guests, and allow flexibility with policies when necessary.

4-   The vice-president of an academic institution
contacted a consultant about designing a curriculum on ethics for one of their
undergraduate programs. The vice-president told the consultant, that she was
the final decision maker, had the budget and just needed a cost proposal. When
told that proposals take a while to write and asked how serious she was about
the project, the vice-president said she was ready to go, wanted to start in
two week, needed it in 48 hours, and the cost was not an issue. The consultant
sent in a proposal within 48 hours. The vice-president didn’t call back for two
weeks and then called and told the consultant she had to check with her boss,
and it would take two weeks. Two weeks later, she called back and said her boss
didn’t want to use money from the budget.

     The consultant asked all the right questions, and the vice-president gave all the right
answers, but didn’t tell the truth, and wasted hours of the consultant’s time. Who needed the class on ethics?


you see yourself in any of these examples, it’s time to get introspective and
put the human factor back in the way you lead, do business and build
relationships. There are different ways to lead. If you want to create dynamic
workplaces where employees love to go, and customers love to buy, you have to
have to be ethical, communicate with empathy, let go of dogmatism and think of
your employees, customers, and vendors as human.

Simma Lieberman  

“The Inclusionist” 


Creating workplaces where people love to do their best work and
customers love to do business 

Simma Lieberman Associates \



Fax: 510.527/0723  

1185 Solano Ave. PMB 142 

Albany, CA 94706 


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