During lunch the other day I was seeking marketing advice from a good friend and respected business leader. Full of wonderful and relevant ideas, she mentioned my writing style tended to be very direct. This business leader said a couple of articles seemed to reach out and grab the reader in a more threatening tone. With her advice in mind, I want to share some thoughts.
First, I don’t apologize if my writing style is aggressive. We work in a business climate today where overly aggressive behavior is rewarded. The just-get-the-job-done-through-whatever-means-necessary attitude is not the way to build long-term, viable organizations. Short-term thinking and decision-making, along with greedy behavior, will eventually lead to an organization’s failure.
Why So Direct?
It is not my intention to offend people, just help them think about important people issues at work. Typically, leaders have no problem being excruciatingly direct with employees. My role is to be direct with business leaders while trying to avoid a harsh tone. Your job is difficult. I feel your pain.
When I played tennis I found improvement was gained when playing against better tennis players. Good tennis players don’t go easy on you. They serve hard and aggressively attack the ball. Reading challenging people practice articles, whether on this blog or other sources, is a good way to bring reality, objectivity, sincerity and best practices into your organization’s people initiatives. However, I promise to not throw my racket at you or hit you in the head with a tennis ball – on purpose anyway.
My Dream Became a Nightmare
In my last corporate position the company was full of promise and the possibilities, both personally and professionally, were a dream come true. I have not met many business people who have had the opportunity to help start a company and be part of the team to see it grow into a multi-billion dollar enterprise with national recognition. It was a dream come true in many respects.
That dream turned into a nightmare for me and thousands of other stakeholders. As the chief human resources officer, I began to sense there was something terribly wrong with the leaders and was trying to cautiously work behind the scenes to identify the issues and work with the CEO. Eventually, my efforts to help address the company’s leadership issues failed, but not without great costs to me personally, physically and financially.
Most whistle-blowers end up being harassed, bullied or disciplined. Fifty-percent of whistle-blowers are fired.
That company is now in the midst of a nasty, disorganized and prolonged bankruptcy. The SEC, FBI and IRS are all investigating the events leading up to the bankruptcy filing.
My Writing Style
So why do I write the way I do? It is my hope your company’s employees will avoid the pain and anguish associated with leadership failure. Business leaders should take seriously their brand of corporate culture. All organizations should treat employees with dignity and respect and adopt and model positive people practices.
Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership
Great companies can fall, and quickly. Employees do not destroy companies, the top leaders possess this power to build up or tear down an organization.
I was fortunate to escape that smoldering house before it went up in flames. Actually, I was thrown out a second story window with only the clothes on my back while the owner was secretly dousing the place with gasoline. The others inside were either unaware or uninterested in my observations about the company’s future. Sadly, my predictions came true.
My motivation is to help prevent another leadership meltdown. When leaders fail, they bring many innocent people with them. The risks are too great to sit and be silent.