Chapter 9: Part 10
Ever hear the phrase “we need to do what is best for the company?” What was the context?
Was it someone explaining to you your basic job responsibilities, or was it someone justifying an unpalatable decision?
I asked the people I interviewed about the phrase “the good of the company.” Hare are answers from two leaders I respect and introduced to you earlier in the book.
Remember Harry T Lobo, the Wolf CEO from Chapter 4, who struggled in a toxic environment in Chapter 6? Harry feels that it is his job to do what is best for the company BUT he focuses on what is best in the long term.
Harry told me that one of the things he found difficult in his time at the toxic culture was the incredible pressure at the end of the quarter, when “60 percent of revenue came in the last 48 hours.” The sales team was incentivized to do crazy deals to pull business forward, which in the short run helped maintain the stock price. In Harry’s opinion, this built a “house of cards” because it was that much harder to make the number the following quarter.
Another admirable leader we met was Janet “power mom” Wolf in Chapter 7. Janet told me of a situation where site closures were explained to the remaining employees as a positive step because they brought various product development teams together in house. Closer coordination would get products to market more quickly, and thus better serve customers. Janet had visibility to the decision making process of those senior to her, and thought the layoff was more about cost savings, combined with an arrogance that the other sites, brought in by acquisition, were not as good. Janet told me that executives made comments like “what do those people do all day?”
Janet did not think the loss of the personnel and expertise would benefit the company in the long run. The company did not offer any relocation packages, which in Janet’s opinion “spoke volumes” about what the executives thought of the people.
The lesson here is that even in a toxic culture, there are leaders who define “the good of the company” in terms of the long term interest and who value people. The trick is to find these leaders, and the pockets of relative calm and sanity they can provide. For example, Janet talked about how she tried to shield her team from the buffeting from the top.
When I was caught up in my corporate idolatry, I would never have considered certain positions because the products were not cool or important enough. But as work because less important to me, I became more open minded, and was delighted to get a job out of the limelight. There was less stress, and I had the bandwidth to focus on health and family.
Who are the leaders in your company who seem to focus on the long term? Have you ever considered working for them? Is there a department that in the past seemed too boring that is work considering?