What goes around actually does come around every now and then. Choose your methods wisely.
The recent U.S. presidential election and the veritable smorgasbord of delicious irony–current and impending–has me thinking…
This is not a political blog. But, it’s hard to ignore the very real strategic insights that come from an election that gives us:
- A winning candidate whose methods of winning have left a lot of scorched earth to recover–whether you think him a buffoon, a fighter, a genius, or simply a flawed person (like all of us).
- A media sector whose methods have demolished whatever trust remained in it for the time being, leading up to the New York Times editorial board needing to redouble its efforts on “reporting America and the world honestly” (an astounding non-admission if there ever was one).
- A set of supporters of the non-winning candidate who now realize that the methods of powers that were behind some of the biggest “wins” for their side (budget reconciliation, as a starter…) probably could be used against them once power passes to someone they simply don’t like.
- A vastly smaller set of people who have chosen to protest, riot, and in general cry foul while breaking things in response to what was a fair outcome (not policy outcomes…the person, mind you).
So, what’s the insight?
I’ll give it to you simply, and it’s nothing original. It’s this:
If you live by the sword, be prepared to die by the sword.
If you live by bullying, shouting down, ignoring, and using unique devices to get your way, then just know that turnabout, while not always fair, is in play. Yes, in this case I’m referring to the healthy proportion of Democrat Party supporters who have taken off their “open minded, tolerant” masks to show that actually, it was really just either “our way or broken glass.”
But, the truth is we all resort to such conveniences without thinking about it.
We all choose what our dogma says we should, and ignore the blow-back that is likely to come later. in the 2000’s, U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan stemmed from a neoconservative dogma that everybody, eventually, responds to the big stick. That dogma is flawed (and, ironically enough, proven wrong by the very existence of the United States of America). The blow-back the U.S. has experienced both internally and externally since deciding to prosecute those wars is instructive of the flawed dogma.
The same is true in the private sector.
I know of multiple executives–some of whom are recently “returned to the market”–whose own arrogance, conspiracies, and secrecy-driven styles ultimately boomeranged on them.
The blow-back was real, and easily foreseeable for anyone who knew the nitty-gritty details.
One in particular was so dogmatic about a social Darwinist approach (and their own superiority to others within that worldview) that, when faced with feedback about their own behaviors and how such behavior could get them figuratively offed from the organization, just cruised right on into oblivion perilously ensconced in the calm self-confidence that such dogma can bring.
One might, in fact, call it karmic justice that the individual faced a sudden and unceremonious ouster from a cold, unfeeling, and similarly dogmatic (about other important character traits) boss.
It’s kind of like what we have witnessed in the “how could we be so wrong” set of 2016 election pollsters who were, in fact, so wrong about the election. The pollsters couldn’t measure the number of people in their polls who, uncomfortable with being called deplorable or bigoted for voicing their support for President Elect Trump (it’s still a stunning reality to write that, by the way), simply didn’t answer the polls correctly. The pollsters’ dogma was in the numbers and not the very real human elements of strategic prognostication. Human character traits matter.
Sometimes, character traits that can only be measured in actions or lack of actions–not numbers–are the ones that carry the day. Executives who perform beautifully on the financial numbers but who ignore their own character flaws and how those might be viewed by other powerful people are similar.
They succumb to blind spots.
But, they are blind spots only to those who don’t understand the notion of living and dying by the sword.
If you are a strategic jerk–pitting customers and employees against one other for constant gain–then don’t be shocked when someone comes along and beats you at your own game.
If you are an organizational jerk–saying you hire and fire people for their performance but really only when you like and dislike them–then don’t be shocked when someone comes along and simply…doesn’t like you.
If you are a political jerk, using false promises and propanda to fool and lie to people in order to get them to follow you, then don’t be shocked when someone comes along and appropriates your own emotion driving style, and beats you at your own game.
The incoming Trump administration and pretty much any of us presiding as executives ought to take heed: When your dogma gets run over by your karma…it ain’t pretty.
If you find yourself in a position of believing there is no way you are wrong, then you probably are already wrong.
Choose your methods wisely.
You’ve just taken the time to read this…now take the time to comment. What do you think?