Do you ever wonder why the smartest people aren’t leading
some organizations? I know your leaders
are smart! That’s not what I mean. What
I mean is that there are book smart people who don’t get promoted to the
highest levels of organizations. I was
just talking with an executive about a problem employee. What’s the problem?
This really smart subordinate sends out emails that discuss company issues to
internal customers when that same subject would be better discussed
face-to-face. The emails are often critical of other people’s judgments or
alarmist in nature. This error in judgment got me thinking. What was it that
she was doing that got her into trouble?
The subordinate, who also manages other people, has a habit
of using email to communicate with employees. Instead of calling a subordinate
into her office, she takes the time to write an often-detailed email about the
doom and gloom of an ongoing project.
Then, she copies the people who she believes need to see the email. What results is just like stirring up a
hornet’s nest. The coworkers talk about
the emails and how negative they are.
The senior managers are aghast that they are made to look incompetent by
all the alarmist talk. The office
“talk” is that this manager doesn’t command respect and lacks power. Are you starting to think that this very
smart person isn’t so smart?
What’s interesting is that in many cases, the emails are
100% accurate. So why is this professional starting to go in a downward spiral?
Delivering the truth in Corporate America is a very, very delicate matter and
has to be handled very strategically.
I’ll make a prediction. This woman had better be very talented at what
she’s doing or else she’s going to be fired at the next opportunity. I’ll bet
money that she’s is not going any higher in the organization either. She can’t
move higher with the reputation she’s creating. She’s not earning any political
points either. Her judgment is just not good.
successful customer once told me that A students end up working for C
students. This customer was a B student
when he went to college and he now runs a $200 million company. While he wasn’t a C student, I know he has
many A students working for him. Being
book smart is not all that it’s cracked up to be in business. It seems so
obvious to me that it’s a dumb idea to make the people you work for look bad
and then spread the information everywhere.
Then again, with this one smart manager unaware of this lesson, it’s
obvious that there are more smart people who didn’t catch that lesson in
school—if it was even taught.
I’m curious what you’ve seen in business that you
thought was a pretty bad idea and should have been obvious. That way we can learn from each other.
Groucho Marx said it best. He said, “We can learn from the mistakes of others. We don’t have time to make them all ourselves.” I hope I’ll get to save you some time so you
don’t have to make all of those mistakes.