Happy Friday! Here are my July 12 Hot Topics and how they relate to advancing leadership or culture.
Hot Topic 1: They Will Leave by the Door or Window.
Source: The New York Times.
What It’s About: The title above is an unfortunate statement made by France Télécom’s CEO a decade ago. This is a grim and extreme example of a company not adapting to rapidly shifting market forces, and the horrifying impact of management and culture floundering in a state of desperation. France Télécom was caught off guard by the digital revolution, and by 2005, it was over $50 million in debt. Company executives believed they needed to get rid of 22,000 out of 130,000 workers to ensure survival. The country’s law is highly restrictive relative to layoffs. Since many Télécom workers were state employees, they had lifelong job security.
For those employees the company could not fire, the executives alledgely resolved to make life so unbearable, that the workers would be forced to leave. According to the article, “at least 35 employees — workers’ advocates say nearly double that number — committed suicide, feeling trapped, betrayed and fearful of ever finding new work in France’s immobile labor market.” Seven members of top the executive team during that time period, starting with the CEO, are currently on trial for “moral harassment.” (Frankly, if allegations noted in this article are true, the actions taken are so despicable the execs should go to jail).
Why It’s Important: This happened a little more than 10 years ago. Market disruption is way more fierce and violent now, and about to become even more turbulent. It is likely that organizations, as nimble as they might be, will get caught flat-footed by a game changer. This may take the form of AI, machine learning, a whole new business model, or a myriad of combinations relative to exponential technology. Although most jurisdictions are not saddled with French employment law, and unions are now far less influential, social media can spin up outrage overnight. Boards and management must be thinking and planning for big workforce changes now, rather than finding themselves sitting in a puddle of desperation. The term “moral harassment” may evolve to cover irresponsible leadership relative to ensuring an adaptive culture!
Hot Topic 2: Can You Inspire an Audience?
What It’s About: Carmine Gallo is a genius on the topic of story telling. His book, “The Story Teller’s Secret” was a compulsory read for my last executive team. In this article, Gallo refers to “Vital Speeches of the Day,” an organization that distributes awards for the best speech writers and speakers who inspire their audiences. The committee of professional speechwriters who judge the submissions keep the following question top of mind: Could the speech have been delivered by any other speaker, to any other audience, at any other time in history? If the answer is “no,” then it has the makings of a fine speech.
Why It’s Important: People want authentic personal connection more than ever. And whenever we are talking to people, whether as a speaker or in a meeting, our ability to tell a story and inspire differentiates us by the added value we give. I wish I would have understood this earlier in my career. It is a practiced art. One does not have to be the CEO or even a supervisor to be a storyteller. We all can be inspiring if we give real thought to our message. Don’t waste the opportunity!
My Weekly Wine Recommendation (Thanks to Vivino):
[Picture and ratings provided by Vivino.]
And finally! Here’s Cecil’s Bleat of the Week!
“Managers light a fire under people. Leaders light a fire in people.” – Kathy Austin.
Bye for now!
– Lorne Rubis
Incase you Missed It:
Monday’s Lead In podcast.
Season 3 of Culture Cast.