By Ian Sampson
Every follower, every analyst, every thwarted applicant for the job the misleader has just been appointed to knows the game: the new leader will use the first 100 days to find all the skeletons in the closet, work out who has the goods on whom, etc. New “rulers” who disguise themselves as “leaders” also use the first 100 days to deal with all the big mistakes, (many of which possibly led to their elevation), some of which they may have actually contributed to (but that is all water under the bridge now…). It is expected that the new “leader” will address these issues and in the process denigrate their predecessors and the work they did. An ideal way to do this is with faint praise or a declaration that you don’t want to speak ill of the recently departed, and then do exactly that.
Sometimes situations are the direct result of misconduct by people: theft, bullying, fraud, malingering, to name a few. These must be addressed as issues of leadership credibility.
Much more significant, though are the situations where something organisationally or systemically has gone wrong.
Misleading conduct involves cover up, justification, blame shifting, scapegoating and finger pointing.
- Acknowledge that the situation is real and present,
- Accept responsibility for what has happened,
- Detail what is wrong and why and,
- Announce the program for reform, including their personal reforming conduct in the future.
This kind of conduct by leaders creates vitality and energy. It creates permission to address other issues. It gives people in organisations a sense of congruence between rhetoric and reality.
(Editors Note – This piece was written well before the recent events in Canberra)