The New Model for Leadership? Win at All Costs

It’s easy given the current corporate news stream to let your mind wander and wonder if the new model for “effective” leadership is characterized by a win-at-all-costs approach. The old model that emphasized character and values seems to have been outmuscled in favor of an approach that is tied exclusively to the scoreboard of revenues, profits and compensation.

Don’t get me wrong: I love growth, profits and good compensation as much as the next person. However, when the schemes for driving those outcomes beget ethical or potentially criminal lapses, something is wrong. When the leaders accountable for enabling these questionable activities dodge accountability, something stinks.

Compensation schemes don’t write or administer themselves. Faulty schemes—those that open the door to extreme and aberrant behaviors never see the light of day in every other business I’ve encountered.

Values are only valuable if they are on display in every decision every single day. The thinly veiled defense that some people violated the values is laughable. It’s not acceptable as an excuse or even an explanation. Leadership owns this.

Corporate compensation programs that promise the equivalent of the bonus lottery to small groups of decision-making executives cannot possibly seem like a good idea to anyone but the direct beneficiaries. When you can reasonably connect the compensation plan to life or death circumstances for even one of your current or potential customers you have crossed a line.

And yes, cross selling and up-selling are powerful approaches for growing a business. But when the scheme for pursuing those approaches quietly legitimizes behaviors that by any outside observer involve misleading your customers, it is fatally flawed.

Numbers on paper have no emotions. They are just the mathematical manifestation of a game of monopoly. If someone dies or many suffer or many are misled because of the reality distortion field imposed by win at all costs schemes and targets, it becomes clear that what we might define as effective (or values-based) leadership has gone missing in action.

The new approach seems to say: there’s no need to be accountable to aberrant behaviors if the goal of winning is achieved.

The Bottom Line:

Reject that approach. Profits are good. Growth is good. However, there’s nothing acceptable about getting there by distorting reality, compromising values, abusing trust and enriching yourselves at the expense of those dependent upon you.

text signature for Art

 

Related: A Model for Effective Leadership

Practical Lessons in Leadership

book cover: shows title Leadership Caffeine-Ideas to Energize Your Professional Development by Art Petty. Includes image of a coffee cup.

Art Petty is a coachspeaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

Art’s Management and Leadership Writing at The Balance

Leadership Caffeine on Facebook

Art on Twitter

By | 2016-10-22T17:10:59+00:00 September 18th, 2016|Leadership, Leadership Caffeine|3 Comments

About the Author:

Art Petty is a coach, speaker and workshop presenter focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. When he is not speaking, Art serves senior executives, business owners and high potential professionals as a coach and strategy advisor. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.

3 Comments

  1. […] Art Petty decries the value-deficient leadership recently displayed at some organizations: win at all costs, ethics be damned. Don’t work for these people, ever. […]

  2. Patricia Comer September 19, 2016 at 9:23 am - Reply

    Art, very good post! Actually, I walked that fine line of achieving at all cost over my values many years ago in the corporate mortgage business. Thankfully, I scared the crap out of myself and stood back taking a good objective look at the view from my little piece of the corporate world. I left it behind soon after and decided to take action to affect change. Several years later, I started a nonprofit as you know, at the root level…the community, to reestablish the common sense values that have been forgotten in this harried world of “getting ahead at all cost” or the “me only” or the “rugged independence” that has become the poster child of modern business. I’m not writing to toot my own horn, but to say, we need to hit the reset button! I’m glad to see you are spreading the word, and keep up the good work!

  3. […] From Art Petty: The New Model for Leadership? Win at All Costs […]

Leave A Comment