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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 business.

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?

If 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 \


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1185 Solano Ave. PMB 142 

Albany, CA 94706  

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