When Executives Behave Badly
We’ve all seen children and how they can get hurt feelings over the most minor infractions, become territorial to the point of landing blows, and just being plain nasty. Of course, people who have attained high educational levels, worked their way through the ranks, and now manage executive positons would never behave in such a manner. At least, one would think.
Recently, I had a conversation with a Vice President. This individual not only is a VP but has a string of letters behind their name that represent both professional level achievements as well as certifications. It seems Pat, (not the VP’s real name), has serious issues with another individual, (Madison, again not a real name), who happens to be in a higher position in the organization. Pat has complained many times about being overwhelmed with work so much so that the organization is going to hire an assistant for Pat.
During our conversation the VP relayed his/her complete intolerance for Madison. This is not just a latent or passive intolerance, but a full blown, aggressive, and tactile dislike. Pat confessed to me that activities include finding ways to put Madison “in a box” as Pat believes that Madison has no skills for the position he/she occupies and Pat loves to see Madison squirm. Tactically, Pat will send Madison as many as 12 emails in one day, just to overwhelm Madison. This tactic also allows Pat to complain that “Madison, never answers my emails.”
If Pat is so overwhelmed with work, how is the time found to send 12 emails to one individual along with all the other work that has to be accomplished? How does Pat have the time to create ways to try and humiliate Madison? Why is Pat wasting valuable resources such as creativity, planning, and effort into such low yielding, juvenile, and narcissistic behavior?
As a CEO, or even as Pat’s boss, these types of behaviors may not be readily apparent. What is apparent are bottle necks in productivity and progress, or the lack thereof, on projects. In addition, low morale and negativity will rear their ugly heads. As executives, we may not want to entertain the idea of such behavior or this type of behavior may be so foreign to us that it would not even be on our radar to entertain the thought of it as an issue. Who behaves in such a manner?
The point is that non-productivity occurs for a reason. Organizations, need to identify the areas of slow progress, drill down, find the root cause, and find solutions. On one hand, Pat is achieving some low-level and demented satisfaction, on the other hand, the job Pat was hired to do is suffering. Madison might become so overwhelmed as to become frozen in the ability to function in a productive manner. This leads to other and larger elements of projects suffering and a snowball effect begins stunting the organization’s progress on goals.
Here are some tips to prevent such behaviors:
- Ensure that your organization has a culture of appreciation of others’ talents and attributes.
- Stop gossiping in its tracks. It may be that Pat has formed opinions based on the gossip of others. Of course, this still does not justify Pat’s behavior.
- Create an atmosphere of collaboration and helpfulness.
- Promote teamwork
- Don’t tolerate bullying and give those who are being bullied a safe outlet to seek solutions
- Hold people accountable for their behaviors
Unfortunately, the types of behaviors described in this blog often come from the top and permeate throughout the entire organization. Accountability begins with self. Monitor your own behaviors and don’t tolerate from yourself what you wouldn’t tolerate from others.
Graphic Credit: BigStock.com Copyright: netris