Facing the brutal facts and addressing them early can prevent disastrous consequences later. Valery Legasov, the hero of the HBO miniseries “Chernobyl,” stated, “Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.” I cannot think of a more appropriate statement that describes the importance of facing the brutal facts of reality. In addition to Chernobyl, this also applies to the Titan implosion, the Challenge disaster and global warming.
A toxic corporate culture is the result of a CEO setting a tone at the top that tolerates toxic people within their organization. As the CEO, you should never tolerate a toxic individual. They cause great harm to your organization. If they cannot rapidly change their management style, part company with them.
Speaking about people who quiet quit and only do the minimum required, Mark Cuban said, “Don’t apply for a job with me… The one thing in life that you control is your effort, and being willing to do so is a huge competitive advantage. Most people don’t.”
The equitable treatment of employees and fairness of any disciplinary action needs to be made using common sense and good critical judgment. It doesn’t appear that this was done by Starbucks when deciding to fire Phillips. This was an expensive lesson for Starbucks. It’s a lesson for all organizations.
You have “served in the trenches,” acquiring the skills of all successful businesspeople through real-time experiences that have monetary consequences—much different than only learning from case studies sitting in a classroom. Most undergraduates don’t have these experiences until they are well into their careers.
Always hire people with common sense and good critical judgment, because someday they may need to violate company policy or their authority to save the company money, reduce liability exposure or protect its reputation. Employees who on occasion violate company policy for the right reasons are your change agents and future leaders. Celebrate them.
Quoting Steve Jobs, “I’ve never found anyone who has said no or hung up the phone when I called [to ask for help]. I just asked. … Most people never ask. And that’s what separates the people that do things from the people that just dream about them. You gotta act. And you gotta be willing to fail.”
Starbucks employee unionization efforts are a lesson for all companies. Listen to the concerns of your employees. Create an environment in which employees develop a feeling of ownership in what they do at the company. Do so before a movement to unionize occurs.
When faced with challenges and adversity, remember Eric Little’s statement in the film Chariots of Fire, “So where does the power come from to see the race to its end? From within.” After you look into the deep, dark abyss, it becomes your finest hour, and you emerge stronger than before.
Don’t emulate Google and other tech companies. Avoid terminations en mass. Evaluate employee performance and the staffing needs of your company and make changes on an ongoing basis. Inform each employee who is about to be terminated individually. How you handle terminations is a reflection of you as a leader.
What lessons for all organizations does the Eagles’ success demonstrate? Jim Collins in his iconic leadership book “Good to Great” was right when he wrote, “[Get] the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus).” Hire the right people. You won’t regret the money you spend to do so. Paraphrasing Collins, the right people will take your organization someplace great.
“Be someone that people want to follow,” and lead in a way that “makes everyone on your team feel like they matter.” The leadership philosophy and principles practiced by Coach Ted Lasso are universal. They transcend professions. Follow them and you will be successful leading your organization.