Friday, July 6, 2012

Errors, Misjudgments and Dishonesty

I've had conversations this week with two friends and former colleagues.  One is employed by Glaxco/Smith/Kline...the "Big Pharma" company.  The other by Barclays, "Big Banking" in the UK.  Major transgressions in both companies have come to light this week.    G/S/K was fined $3B....yes, $3 billion dollars.... for knowingly promoting drugs for unapproved uses, failure to report safety problems with some drugs and false representation of the safety of other drugs.  The Chairman of Barclays and the CEO both resigned after Barclays were fined $451M in the UK for the intentional manipulation of interest rates.  US government officials have opened their own investigation.

In the coming days I'll spend some time discussing the leadership dimensions of these type cases.  For now, I want to concentrate on the impact of "those who are left behind".  By this I mean the tens of thousands of honest, hard-working people in both organizations.  Just about all big companies these days have some version of corporate values that include honesty, integrity and respect for people.  The overwhelming majority of employees in these companies believe in these values and live them everyday.  In fact, in many cases those values are the very reason some employees join these firms and take pride in being part of an organization that lives those values every day.

When the senior leaders of a company are found not to have lived those values, it is often an extreme shock to the workforce.  The effects are not unlike the corporate version of the Kubler-Ross grieving model....change managers will recognize the SARAH model.
Shock(I can't believe our leaders would do that)
Anger(How could they?),
Resistance(The regulators/government are unfairly targeting us),
Acceptance( Our leaders were wrong) and
Help( What can we/I do to keep this from happening to us again?)

All that to say, it is all too easy.....and dead wrong..... to take these cases and level an across the board indictment of one's favorite target(Big Pharma, Big Oil, Wall Street, The City, The 1%) and in so doing stain tens of thousands of honest hard-working people who are completely unconnected to the incidents of egregious misconduct..  Bad things happen in the best organizations.  It isn't the prevention of bad things happening that defines success.  Success is defined by how new leaders....and staff at every level.... handle the bad things that do happen and put remedies in place to prevent their recurrence.

No comments:

Post a Comment