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THE Leadership Japan Series by Dale Carnegie Training Tokyo Japan

Aug 10, 2022

All guns blazing the new leader hits the ground running.  They are the new broom, sweeping all the detritus away from the old regime’s reign of terror.  “Embrace me as your saviour”, they say.  Well dressed, even natty, their hair is nice, they look the money.  They are the type of front man the organisation needs and a pleasing contrast to the previous incumbent.  Good looking, articulate, “hail fellow well met” and you think this is looking good.  They take on a much higher profile in the media, because they can carry it off and they can sustain the credibility needed for the public profile they are building.  They say all the right things and they have the right rhetoric for the zeitgeist.  Things are looking good, until they are not.


Covid does terrible things to companies.  It removes portions of the workforce from the front line, so the work isn’t getting done.  It causes the markets to change and the revenues to drop and drop quickly.  The way the leader responds says a lot about who they really are.  At one level they are positive, upbeat, confident the good old days will return again.  At the same time, they are wielding the knife and firing people immediately to reduce the exposure to the wages bill, amongst reduced revenues. 


Of course, they promise the same level of service will continue, even though there are a smaller number of survivors left to do the work.  This goes down like a rock with the remaining crew.  I remember when I worked for the Australian Government and the Minister in charge of the Department I worked for, announced that the budget was being cut substantially, but was assuring all the voters that services would continue as normal.  The staff in that department immediately judged this fellow had no credibility whatsoever and the motivation in the organisation went straight down.  It is the same in the private sector.  The team are not fools and they know that the machine is always running lean and any reduction in input power impacts the outputs immediately and protestations to the contrary, there is a big impact on the quality and speed of service delivery.


The revenue reduction produces a quandary for the leader.  They start to become legalistic, waving around contracts and rules like fig leaves for their departure from the trust they have built up since they arrived.  The rhetoric and the reality really start to diverge.  At first, they try and make out like there has been no changes, but people in the organisation are not idiots and they see the changes quite clearly.  The fact that they think no one will notice creates a different set of issues.  Now people are not only unhappy, they are feeling insulted as well, to think that they are seen as that dumb that they can be fooled by smoke and mirrors.


The integrity of the leader sinks rapidly.  They try to isolate people out and deal with them individually, trying to mask the damage they are doing.  It doesn’t work though, because people talk and they complain widely to anyone who will listen, exposing what is the actual reality.  As we know, bad news travels fast.  Now every announcement is greeted with scepticism and doubt.  The leader is still maintaining their public profile, mouthing aphorisms and making sage comments on the general state of business or mankind, but the words ring hollow within the organisation.


Trying to justify the unjustifiable is a road to ruin, from which there is no return.  All of the good work invested up until now is being swept out with the fishbones and vegetable peelings into the rubbish bin.  Once the credibility and trust are gone then only concern is left and an urgent desire for change at the top.  Other nefarious acts going on in the background are now being brought into the light. Scenes from the shadowy wasteland of destruction are shared internally and beyond that rumours, flights of imagination, fantasy and fears on steroids are added to the mix of fact and fiction, to create a world of confusion and dismay.


No amount of rhetoric or press releases or podcast guest appearances will cure this cancer in the organisation.  Even if the economy and market bounce back, the damage is done.  The real leader has been exposed for who they really are, the full consequences of their appointment have become apparent and efforts to undo them are underway.  It didn’t have to be this way. 


The real issue is time frame.  Those with a very short point of reference will take actions of desperation and will burn, pillage and plunder to survive.  They are the people who will drown you, if your swim to them and try and rescue them, as they push your head under to keep themselves above water.  The other major victim is transparency.  Because their ego is involved, they try to make out as if they are in control, they are awesome and don’t worry, everything is going to be fine.  In a vacuum of information flow, rumour and supposition fill in the gaps and then they lose control of the narrative.  Honesty breeds a collegiate effort to weather the storm together and to make the sacrifices needed to survive.  Integrity can become even further burnished in the fire of destruction which Covid has wrought on the market and the organisation. Like a Phoenix, the leader can emerge stronger, smarter and attracting more support.  Their true humanity has been revealed, their humility has been shown and their integrity has been preserved, in fact, it has been increased.