Michael Toebe

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More CEOs earning due consequences

More CEOs earning due consequences

Misbehavior, missing ethics, harassment, abuse and enabling still happen in corporate America yet it’s no longer as commonplace.

The enabling, that is.

The tide, slowly changing thanks to more people feeling empowered and courageous, boldly coming forward and the rapid way that media and social media produce a groundswell of anger and a viral response, putting heat on the offending person or persons and their organization.

What might be helping?

One catalyst: “…misconduct and ethical lapses occurring in the #MeToo era are now the biggest driver behind a chief executive falling from the top” reports NPR.

Is that encouraging? It might be the correction of what has previous been the norm, leadership with weak self control being allowed to work freely outside of professional and ethical boundaries.

Such unprofessional, aggressive behavior is not being as regularly ignored and thus enabled on widespread basis. Entitlement and appropriation are not as frequently longstanding, unquestioned “perks”, guaranteed to be or highly unlikely to go unpunished.

It’s not just that type of behavior either. It’s also the too typical greed decision-making that leads to terminations or forced “resignations” that are more regularly leading to job loss.

A new study by the consulting division of PwC reveals specifics of the progress in questionable and bad behavior not being allowed to continue.

“…scandals over bad behavior rather than poor financial performance was the leading cause of leadership dismissals among the world’s 2,500 largest public companies” writes Bobby Allyn of NPR.

The risks are greater now than in the past — of litigation and successful court outcomes, giving confidence to more claims, higher payouts, as well as the torrent of damaging media coverage and the associated consequences of it.

Reputation damage isn’t inexpensive, as Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School, a former chief executive himself, and board member knows well.

“…there’s a greater reputational hit of not acting than acting (to move on from the offending executive or party)” George commented to NPR.

No answer is an answer and companies and boards of directors are not having silence be their answer as frequently as in the past.

“There are clearly a lot of bad actors who are still hiding in the shadows that need to be swept out” John Paul Rollert, a professor at the University of Chicago, tells NPR.

Will companies and boards of directors invest more attention, strategy and safeguards through improved hiring, more well thought-out promotions, regular coaching, higher-quality oversight and swift, root-focused corrective measures?

Will governing individuals and teams step outside of ego, arrogance and overly insular and narrow problem solving to be receptive to more skillful protection and correction?

Or will the status quo, blind spots, overconfidence bias, sunk costs and other problematic thinking continue to reign?

Michael Toebe is a communications solutions leadership practice leader for reputation management, risk, crisis communications and crisis management for companies and individuals.

He has written for and contributed to Chief Executive, Corporate Board Member and the New York Law Journal. You can also find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and a short-segment podcast Communications Solutions Leadership.


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