Be Good, Then Become Better (Your Leadership Includes Your Behavior) – Grow Great Small Business Daily Brief #42 – July 20, 2018

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Be Good, Then Become Better (Your Leadership Includes Your Behavior) – Grow Great Small Business Daily Brief #42 – July 20, 2018

Texas Instruments said Tuesday afternoon that CEO Brian Crutcher resigned for violating the company’s code of conduct related to personal behavior. I’m sure in the coming days we’ll learn more. Crutcher had been with the company for 22 years when he was just recently appointed CEO effective June 1st. Chairman and previous CEO, Richard Templeton will reassume the roles of president and CEO. The company said this is a permanent move, not interim. 

Barnes & Noble. Intel. Texas Instruments.

It just keeps on rolling. Bad behavior from the high places.

It doesn’t defy explanation. Maybe power does corrupt. It certainly presents the temptation. 

Or maybe it’s what you often hear said of fame or wealth. They amplify who we really are. If we’re jerks, then our jerkiness is amplified.  If we’re decent and upright, then that too is amplified. 

Who knows? Really, who cares?

I’m tired of excuse making. And explanations. Not because I don’t want to understand, but because I already do. Some people behave poorly. Some always have. Some will always find a way to behave badly. 

Ethical and moral behavior are not outliers. I rather believe they’re the norm. Not because I’m naive, but because I’m optimistic. 

We decide how we’ll behave. We choose. I have no idea what the TI CEO did, but he’s accountable. Responsible. 

His salary was $1 million. Stock options and other incentives would have compensated him over $9 million a year more. TI is a $15B company. Money can’t buy wise conduct. It’s priceless with no cost of entry other than a mind made up. 

I’m not going to deliver an ethics lecture. What I will do is encourage us all to behave ourselves. 

For four years or so I coached a local college roller hockey team. The players were good. We went to the national tournament each year, achieving the Elite 8 one year (our best result). These were college guys who would hear me repeatedly admonish them with a single word, “Behave!” They weren’t highly compensated CEO’s who had been elevated from the COO role like Brian Crutcher at Texas Instruments. They were young college guys, but they clearly understood the instruction (okay, it was more of a plea). Behave. 

I’ve got a grandson who is almost 3. He understands the command. Yep, for him it’s a command. We figure he’ll learn otherwise soon enough. Until then we’re doing our collective best to instill in him that behaving is non-negotiable. Because in our family it is. 

What does it mean to behave?

It means you do what’s right. Unless we’re sociopaths we know what’s right. Well, to be fair, I suppose even sociopaths know. They just don’t care. Psychopaths may not know, or care. But I’m not trained in such things. No matter, I’m hoping you’re neither of these things so what does it matter?

Last year there was an interesting article in The Guardian entitled, “Crazy at the wheel: psychopathic CEOs are rife in Silicon Valley, experts say.”

“A true psychopath is someone that has a blend of emotional, interpersonal, lifestyle and behavioral deficits but an uncanny ability to mask them. They come across as very charming, very gregarious. But underneath there’s a profound lack of remorse, callousness and a lack of empathy,” said forensic and clinical psychologist Michael Woodworth.

The article points out that investors and HR departments can protect the founder/CEO in Silicon Valley. And presumably elsewhere. 

Here in Texas high football is legendary. Consider Friday Night Lights (first the book, then the TV show and whatever else came after the book). Young high school boys between 16 and 18 who are talented enough to be scouted by major college programs are entitled. They’ve been catered to and pampered because of their skills. Some behave poorly. With some, the privileges spur even poorer behavior. Like some Silicon Valley CEOs who find protection, these young athletes find it, too. 

We all need accountability. No matter if we’re a Silicon Valley CEO, high school football player or a college kid playing a lower tier sport like roller hockey. NOTE: I do not think it’s lower-tier, but I’m not naive how the world views it. It beats soccer all to pieces. 😉 

We can argue that TI’s board held their CEO accountable. And they did. They do. But no board can hold the CEO accountable at a micro, everyday level. That’s not to say that we need people hovering over us constantly. But it does mean that we can all benefit from more consistent accountability. It serves us. Makes us better. Helps us grow. 

It’s not a lack of trust. It’s responsibility. Value.

My wife and I are far from micromanagers of one another. I don’t keep a hawkeye on her any more than she does me. We trust each other. We respect each other. Yet we still check in with each other. We don’t walk out of the house without informing each other of where we’re going. We’ll text each other when we’re on our way home. These little check-in’s are part of our life that happened organically really. We didn’t sit down and establish rules. They’ve always existed because when we first got married we started answering to each other. In all the best ways. 

It’s spousal accountability. If you don’t see the value, then I offer a major proof that it works (although there’s more to it for sure) – we’ve been married 40 years. 

Our growth individually and together has been helped with that joint accountability. Don’t tell me it isn’t required, or that it doesn’t work. Don’t tell me you own the joint so you don’t need it. Maybe if these dethroned CEOs would have had people in their lives who held them accountable they’d still have their highly compensated gigs. Ten million bucks a year is a big financial loss. The greater loss is reputation and showing the world a lack of integrity. You can always earn more money, but regaining a good name can be very difficult.

Be well. Do good. Grow great!

P.S. If you’re the owner of a business you may find The Peer Advantage by Bula Network an ideal accountability circle. You could join with 6 other business owners to work on your problems, your opportunities and your leadership. You can find out more by going to ThePeerAdvantage.com. I’d enjoy talking with you to learn more about you and your business. 

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