You know what it’s like to get triggered and blow up only to have regrets. At the worst you experience some embarrassment. Or maybe you have to eat a little crow. Sometimes you may even lose a friendship or a job over your behavior. Eventually you learn from your mistake, move on, and it’s forgotten. That is, unless your behaviors get caught on camera, makes national news and costs your company millions of dollars. Take for example the recent event at the University of Missouri Columbia where assistant professor of communications Melissa Click lost her cool (and damaged her reputation) during a public protest where she was was captured on video screaming and waving her arms while trying to get a journalist removed. This public exposure was costly to the university, and a reminder to all of us how leadership behavior affects the bottom line.
What’s so interesting is that even though most of us can relate to messing up, we seem to have no tolerance for others who mess up.
Now don’t get me wrong: I agree that an adult educator “should” know better, and “should” be a No-Drama Leader. I agree with suspending her.
I agree that she got caught up in her emotion. She forgot her highest values. She got distracted.
What I don’t agree with is the lack of compassion and empathy from regular folks just reading the news from the sidelines.
There are a lot of lessons contained in this one unfortunate episode
- There are consequences for a leader’s behavior
- Transparency is no longer just a choice, it is a given
- When the pressure is on, your character defects will come to the surface
- There is no guaranteed privacy: we are all subject to being on Big Brother
- Leadership behavior affects the bottom line
Social media has become a tool for harsh public ridicule and judgment rather than a vehicle for learning. For me, this incident is a call to examine my own triggers. I invite you to do the same. We are spending way too much time throwing stones and not enough time looking in the mirror. We contribute to a culture of drama by our own actions.
Here is the missed lesson: This could happen to you too!
- YOU could get triggered and over-react.
- YOU could be caught on tape.
- YOU could cost your company millions of dollars.
- YOU could be the recipient of public ridicule and judgment.
Life is pretty easy when things are going your way. The choices and appropriate behaviors are evident when we sit in the easy -chair watching someone else’s drama.
How do you behave when you are tired, hungry or overcome by emotions? How do you behave under pressure? How do you respond when someone disagrees with you over minor irrelevant issues? Hint: If you can’t hold your tongue when someone disagrees with you on Facebook, or Linked In how would you react if you were in the same kind of situation Melissa Click was in?
The next time you see someone exposed in a scandal because they got triggered and got caught, withhold your opinion, your solution and your judgment for just one day. With some reflection you may come to realize, someday it could happen to you too. And if you are a leader in an organization, never forget that leadership behavior affects the bottom line.
Marlene Chism is an executive educator, consultant, and author of Stop Workplace Drama, (Wiley 2011) and No-Drama Leadership (Bibliomotion 2015). She works with executives, and high-performing leaders who want to transform culture in the workplace. To explore opportunities please email firstname.lastname@example.org