Time and time again we see what happens when leadership or leadership teams are silence about wrong doing by either one of themselves or someone on the team. Silence is complicity. Whether you say something or say nothing, you are making a statement. Team members learn from what I term is more like a “gang mentality” than orderly and moral leadership. A lack of either self accountability or group accountability weakens the very structure of any organization until it becomes a shadow of itself or simply a House of Cards just praying the winds of change do not blow it down when the next storm comes.
I was once told by an executive of a Fortune 500 company that his organization was run with a tribe (I say gang) mentality. “There are only 5 people in the tribe who get to go into the Teepee Tent. Once you get in there, you protect each other or you are thrown to the wolves.”, he said. “Once you find out who those 5 people are who get to go into the tent, you never cross them or confront them. Those that have tried find they will never get into the tent or worse yet are asked to leave the tribe.” Like I said, it kind of sounds like a white-collar gang doesn’t it?
Leadership like this is complicit to problems. They look the other way. Why do they do this? Because it benefits them or the leadership team to look the other way. The team members of the larger organization realize to get along…. you have to go along. Immoral behavior is no longer called out, it becomes rampant. Rules of conduct no longer matter. Corners are cut. Accountability goes out the door. The Corporate Soul is injured… sometimes beyond repair.
What’s worse than the corporate soul being damaged are the real human lives that are torn. Careers are stunted. Families are broken. You see things like sexual misconduct is known but ignored. “Gaming the System” to make goals guts the integrity of all those associated with the organization, even if you had no role in it. Promoting people because of the color of their skin or their sexual orientation takes huge tolls on all of those involved.
For those who are the leaders of the gang, it makes them feel all-powerful. It can make them monetarily rich. It can make them feel bullet proof. So what does it take to stop this type of leadership behavior? People who do not look the other way. People with courage to stand up. People who have decided that moral character is more important to them than being in the gang. It begins with just one person speaking up. It begins with just one person speaking the truth.
Warren Buffet recently said, “There is never just one cockroach in the kitchen.” In short, when the House of Cards starts falling there is rarely just one person that is the cause. There are lots of people who knew what was going on but did not stand up to uphold the values of the organization. It sounds simple to just be silent. I hope you see it is much deeper than that. Even the Roman Empire fell once the decay of bad leadership became apparent to all.
Silence is complicity. We all need to stand up for what we believe or the wrong will rule until someone actually shows some moral courage. Be that person. Stop the hurting.
Until next time…. Peace.