Michael confronted the gossip mongers. He tried negotiating with them, to blunt their campaign of undermining and disinformation. He had warned them of the consequences if they continued and could not work out their differences. When they persisted, he invited them to a meeting with the CEO, where he challenged them to substantiate the comments that they had made behind his back.
At first, they denied that they had been behaving in a way that was inconsistent with the company values of honesty and integrity, which they had all pledged to uphold.
But when Michael laid the evidence on the table, there was no room to wriggle out of it. The CEO asked them to stop the gossip and to date it seems to have worked.
However, Michael’s direct approach did not endear him to the gossip mongers. People generally saw him as a people person; someone who treated people with dignity and respect and was able to get the best out of them. But they were mistaken if they assumed he was a soft touch. Michael had realised that his strength with people could also be a weakness if he defaulted to wanting to be liked too much. When he tackled the gossip mongers head-on, he risked that they might not like him. But he had decided that he would rather be respected than liked.
Leaders like Michael are not to be messed with. Just like you do not mess with someone with a black belt in martial arts or you might come off second best!
Even an enlightened company like Google that talks a lot about its employee focused values has some clear lines that employees should not cross. For example, Laszlo Block former head of People Operations at Google, in his book, Work Rules – Insights from Inside Google, says that although they encourage transparency, employees who are found disclosing confidential information to external parties are fired. Laszlo says, “It was clear that if you violated that trust, you were gone the next day.” No messing around.
How do you draw the line on poor behaviour?
Best regards, Brian
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