Business People Behaving Badly- why more executives need
to take lessons from Miss Manners
I help transform people into
leaders that build 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.
• 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 that 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
• The 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 the people they employed had to be personally non-profit.!
• An international hotel chain that is known for the way it cares
about its employees and customers
held a conference to share best practices in customer service. They are known
for making guests from across the world feel welcome, and recognizing employees
who make extra effort to meet the needs of guests.
One of the meals was a box lunch. There were at least fifty
extra lunches stacked on a table in the lobby. A guest mistakenly thought the
lunches were complimentary for the guests since they often had special treats
available during the day. He picked up the lunch and as he started to walk 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.
• 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
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.
Creating workplaces where
people love to do their best work and customers love to do business
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