(Note: This month’s entry is inspired by the current controversy surrounding NBC news anchor Brian Williams and his purposeful reporting of inaccurate information. Several references will be made to that ongoing event in order to draw parallels that can be used as perspective for professionals in the business world).
Even in this age of advanced technology, many people continually try to pull the wool over the eyes of others. But with so many people watching and scrutinizing their actions, plus the potential for the news to go viral in the blink of an eye, the question is why do they behave in that manner?
Well, a large portion of the answer is simply that their egos have gotten out of control. This stems from the incorrect belief that they will not be caught – “It won’t happen to me, I’m the exception!” – says their ego. Yet they always do get caught eventually, and the repercussions extend far beyond the scope of the individual in question.
Now, let’s take a look at how all this relates to the corporate world:
1. Damaged Credibility = Damaged Trust
It is a given that Mr. Williams significantly damaged his credibility, and that in turn equals damaged trust. Of course, once trust is damaged between people, in most cases it will never be fully regained, as it has become permanently scarred.
That said, for all professionals (but particularly for CEOs, Executives, and Managers) the first lesson that needs to be realized here is that a person’s credibility is paramount not only to their individual success, but also to the success of their respective companies/corporations as well. If the workforce of the company doesn’t have absolute trust and belief in the words and actions of their Leadership, then everything else becomes moot. Subsequently, it then all goes downhill from there.
2. The Downward Spiral
The second lesson here is that all individuals in business (with particular focus on those in leadership roles) must maintain the highest ethical standards, or they will end up looking like a joke and drag their respective companies/corporations down with them in several ways. This drag then creates a negative domino effect that resonates across the spectrum.
Here are just a few examples of those negative effects and how they relate to various business areas:
If the company is reflected poorly to the outside world due to the actions and/or the poor decisions of its CEO & Executives, hiring will be negatively impacted in that with their now negative reputation, that company will no longer be able to attract the best & brightest talent that they need to prosper and continue to be competitive. It is a well-known fact that people will not go to work for a company they don’t believe in.
Always remember that in this age of technology and frequent, multiple surveys describing the best and worst places to work, there is no place to hide for companies and their leaders who continue to try and deceive the populace and potential future employees.
As can be expected, the ultimate effect is that a poor reputation becomes tantamount to sending those highly qualified individuals right into the arms of the affected company’s competitors.
• Revenue Loss
Damaged credibility does affect revenue as well. How so? Well, it is not only Mr. Williams personally that has been tarnished, it is in fact all of NBC. Many viewers will now just simply write off NBC and find other news outlets for their attention, which in turn hurts everyone working at NBC by eroding the viewer base, which then in turn can greatly affect the sales of advertising time and subsequently advertising revenue. Then, once revenue begins to fall, that will always be followed by job cuts.
3. Second Chances?
Don’t bet on it.
Obviously, Mr. Williams’ poor choices have tainted not only his reputation and damaged his legacy permanently, but it has also detrimentally affected NBC as a whole. It is extremely unlikely that it could occur, but if Mr. Williams did receive a second chance in some form or another, many people will never fully trust anything he says ever again. They will always be questioning, watching, ready for the other shoe to drop at any moment.
This will follow Mr. Williams for the rest of whatever remains of his career. A sad ending to what could have been a phenomenal legacy.