“INTEGRITY LEADERSHIP”….a thing of the past?
In any given profession you’re going to have the nefarious, unscrupulous, and even unethical present…..and if you’re really lucky some of these “jewels” will work for you. Let me just say that none of us are perfect and we ALL have experiences in our lives that we aren’t too particularly proud of and admitting that is the first step to humility and GROWING from those experiences. Yet, there are some among us that haven’t grown or evolved which let’s be frank have caused HELL for the rest of us. I read the other day that the top profession Psychopaths are most attracted to is Chief Executive Officer and ranked in the top 10…Salesperson (GO FIGURE!!). I’m sure there’s validity to these findings I didn’t find in the article what specific traits of a psychopath that closely aligns to a CEO/Salesperson’s mentality however I can probably take some fairly good guesses and be spot on! I wanted to spend a little time in this post examining INTEGRITY LEADERSHIP….is it a thing of the past? If you’ve been in any type of leadership position for a period of time chances are you’ve had the opportunity to manage such individual(s), and I’m sure you have your stories. Having had the good fortune of holding a wide variety of leadership positions in my career I have had the honor of managing folks who let’s just say took cutting corners to a whole new level. I’ve been in depositions and close to appearing in court because of the activities of some of my sales & marketing employees. What makes this a really challenging situation is that you may have good employees become influenced by these predators and now you have problems. Moreover, I’ve had situations where my top salesperson was the toxic problem and accounted for 65% of my business (they were that good!), but their unscrupulous behavior was so intolerable I had to let them go which impacted my business greatly. One important perspective I learned early on in my management career is that Performance & Integrity cannot be separated. If you think about it performance comes and goes especially in the sales business, I’ve seen a lot of situations where there are “1-Hit Wonders” of folks who had 1 good year and proceeded to follow that up with 3 or 4 poor years…..consistent top performances are very rare in the sales business. Conversely, integrity is based on character it’s who that person is, and that lasts a lifetime. So, YES in my humble opinion performance & integrity has to go hand in hand and not separated otherwise in my example above I would have stuck it out with the bad apple who was a stellar sales performer. Believe me and I understand the pressures to succeed in this day and age especially in occupations where success is an expectation.
I consult everyday with leadership in corporate America holding positions in sales & marketing and the subject always comes up on how to deal with employees who consistently demonstrate bad behavior. Typically in corporate America it’s handed over to HR however all of us who’ve been in that environment understand it’s a process and I’ll leave it at that……
There are action steps you can take to manage such HR issues and quite frankly I made it mandatory for my folks who were responsible for sales teams to have locked in these processes: Engaging with the employee of the bad behavior should be the 1st step. Identify behavior discrepancies, and do they understand the specific behavior is unsatisfactory? (Personal opinion here: It irks me when there are “conflict avoidance” leaders, I’ve typically weeded them out):
- Accurately discuss/record what specific behavior needs to change (document this)
- Show how the behavior CAN negatively impact sales/and or performance results (e.g. field conference reports, sales data, time spent outside sales responsibility)
- Unfortunately, engaging with the employee has to be somewhat frequent and consistent. There must be maximum involvement between leader and employee (document all meetings)
- Getting an agreement from the employee that a change in behavior must happen (this can happen in conjunction w/HR if it’s escalated to that point)
- Important to let the employee know that they’re responsible for their behavior (this often has to be agreed upon because “Deflection” can occur quickly)
- Have a “Coach Plan” in place. This is additional documentation to possibly use if termination is likely.
- If you find it necessary to engage HR at the beginning of the conflict, make sure you document, document, and document. In addition, always provide “Real Examples” of the behavior demonstrated either in coach plans or HR documentation…..subjectivity and inaccuracies can get you in real trouble.
- Most companies have “PIP” programs (“Performance Improvement Process”), if it’s necessary to institute this process then I would recommend this. Usually these are 90 days in length.
Certainly, I’m sure it appears to be a long process the truth is…it is. Yep, it’s a long sometimes tedious journey and that’s why many in leadership positions avoid dealing with conflict, and it’s also the reason why most lose their job because they avoid addressing it. Not immediately addressing toxic team members can have disastrous effects on the team and company.
INTEGRITY LEADERSHIP is a positive dividend that truly pays off long term and it’s better to cultivate good characters you can coach and enjoy being around!
“INTEGRITY LEADERSHIP”….a thing of the past?
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