Leaders Can Be Right, and Wrong, at the Same Time

No, I’m not word-smithing or playing head games. Let me give you some examples.

Many of the aggressive accounting practices at Enron were technically legal or “right.”

But they were wrong.

Many of the sub-prime loans that prompted much of the current mess we’re in were “right” in a technical, legal sense.

But they were wrong.

We make decisions every day. That’s what we do for a living — make decisions, discern between choices, decide which resources to allocate where. It’s why we are paid, and it’s part and parcel to the impact we have on our organizations.

Be careful that some of those decisions, though technically right, aren’t wrong instead.

You can promote an unprepared person into management (or more senior management). But is it right?

You can terminate a mediocre performer without managing his/her performance in most states, instead relying on “employment at will.” But is it right?

You can lay off staff (non-union) using seniority as the sole determinant, since that will drastically reduce the likelihood of lawsuits and agency charges. But is it right?

Here some advice: If you ever find yourself making a decision, and in explaining it to someone, you use the word “technically” in a non-brain-surgery sentence, you likely are making a right decision that is ultimately wrong.

It’s simply no longer enough to “not be wrong.” We must — must — get better at being right.

But that’s just me…

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