Monday, June 16, 2008

Caving

The executive entered the meeting and listened to the representative of an interest group. The representative was a demagogue and several times in the course of the hour was caught distorting facts. As the meeting progressed, the executive began to place distance between himself and the employees who had to deal with the representative. By the end of the meeting, it was clear that he had sold them out.

In doing so, he destroyed his credibility. If he'd taken his position as the result of inadequate information or because one of the employees had behaved inappropriately, that would have been a different matter. The key factor was he was aware of exactly what he was doing and everyone else, including the demagogue, knew that. His behavior was a profile in cowardice.

There was another reason for the executive's conduct. He knew that the employees could not harm him but the demagogue might.

I'm sure that every employee there was aware of the distinction. I'm equally certain that they never forgot the lesson.

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