INTHEBLACK Mental Health Special Edition - Flipbook - Page 24
Mental Health and Wellbeing
B U S I N E S S S M A R T // C O M M U N I C AT I O N
REPUTATIONS TAKE YEARS TO BUILD
AND MOMENTS TO DESTROY. IN TIMES
OF STRESS, YOU – AND YOUR BUSINESS –
MUST CONTROL YOUR MESSAGE WITH
A STEADY HAND.
STORY AMANDA WOODARD
24 ITB October 2020
to read an
article on team
The impact of impetuous, self-serving
remarks from leaders, be they politicians or
business leaders, can have dire consequences
and worsen already volatile situations.
The mental and financial fallout for the
individual and the company can last for years
and be difficult to repair. What are the danger
signs, and how can “foot-in-mouth syndrome”
WINDOW TO THE WORLD
There is little doubt that social media has
changed the landscape on how organisations
control and communicate their messages.
Greater transparency and a power shift
towards individuals to influence the
conversation have forced business leaders to
engage with stakeholders on a more public
level than they were used to in the past.
The problem is, not everyone is equally
comfortable interacting publicly in an online
environment, and there are grave risks involved
when individuals slip up, as they can now be
“judged” instantly and their mistakes shared
Added to this is research by clinical
psychologist Mariana Plata, published in
Psychology Today, showing that the general
ease and immediacy of posting on social media
sites and other online forums makes people
more prone to knee-jerk reactions that can
appear careless at best, or rude and
defamatory at worst.
REPUTATIONS ON THE LINE
The risk to business of a leader’s impetuous
public remark can be more than just
reputational damage for the individual, says
Gary Waldon, an author and transformational
change specialist who helps organisations
improve their productivity.
Waldon says employees look to senior
management for cultural and ethical direction.
“Employees want to feel proud of the
organisation they work for and, a lot of the
time, their engagement with the business
comes down to the trust they feel in the values
and behaviour of the CEO,” he says.
OPEN VIDEO IN A NEW WINDOW
If that trust is undermined by
some intemperate remark from senior
management, or if there is a perceived
misalignment of values between
management and employees, then
you’ve lost the staff, and you’ve lost
their loyalty, says Waldon.
The shockwaves from a throwaway
comment also affect other stakeholders,
customers and investors.
The Royal Commission into Misconduct
in the Banking, Superannuation and
Financial Services Industry saw several
heads roll, including that of former NAB
CEO Andrew Thorburn, who characterised
the “fees-for-no-service” scandal as
“nothing more than carelessness”.
It was a comment that fuelled a fire
that saw 88 per cent of shareholders
voting down NAB’s remuneration report
at the annual general meeting in 2018 – the
largest protest vote recorded in Australian
NARCISSISTS RULE, OK?
Organisational psychologist Tomas ChamorroPremuzic has made the study of incompetent,
narcissistic leaders a focus of his research. He
offers an insight into why some leaders behave
the way they do, saying that the things we
value in our leaders – such as charisma and
confidence – do not equal competence. In fact,
there is little overlap.
In a TED Talk he gave at the University of
Nevada, Chamorro-Premuzic said that
encouragement given to potential leaders
helps to promote a narcissistic mindset.
“Mantras such as: ‘Love yourself, no
matter what’ and ‘Don’t worry about what
people think of you’, create leaders who are
unaware of their limitations…They see
leadership as an entitlement, and they lack
empathy and self-control, so they end up
acting without integrity and indulging in
reckless risk,” he says.
Chamorro-Premuzic says we should stop
falling for these types and instead value
people who have competence, humility and
integrity. We would also end up with more
female leaders, as scientific studies cited by
Harvard Business Review show women exhibit
these traits more frequently than men.
PRESS THE PAUSE BUTTON
Self-control is essential for any leader, yet
leadership qualities focus so much on results
to listen to
and behaviour that character and psychological
make-up are relegated to the “nice to have” list
– to all our detriment.
Self-control is a skill that can be learnt and
practised, says Waldon, who offers tips on how
to press the pause button before sounding off.
If you are asked to make a public
comment, or if you are proactive about
offering one, apply the “ABC risk analysis”,
Assess the risk. It is critical to ask yourself
why you are engaging and if you are the right
person to speak. What are the benefits?
What is the social climate, the context for
Breathe. There is fast thinking, and there is
slow thinking. Our impulse is to respond
quickly, but take time to consider and remove
the impetuous part of any message.
Communicate. Is what you have to say a
short-term, easy message, or is it a long-term
strategic response? Words have power, so
choose the right ones.
“Then reflect on the impact of what you’ve
said. How did that go? How did the audience
respond? If there was a storm in the response,
how do I make sure that I don’t make the
same mistakes again?”
intheblack.com October 2020 25