Would You Fire Your Children?

The Circle of Safety

The Circle of Safety

I certainly hope not.

Yet how many executives who speak of their company as having a “family” atmosphere think nothing of sacrificing that same family when the numbers are a little short. Oh, it’s explained using all the right terms, like rightsizing or aligning expenses with revenues.

But the instant you do it as an executive, you not only show yourself to be insincere but also a liar. Because you’d never fire your own child when he or she came home with a low grade. Nor would you even think about eating until you were sure the kids and your spouse had enough.

For some reason, we allow our executives to develop corporate values statements or mission statements that refer to family values, and then turn around and destroy those very families when Wall Street might be a little disappointed with the quarterly earnings. Of course any pangs of guilt felt at throwing people out of work are assuaged by bonuses and stock price increases.

I’m very clear here–it’s not the corporation that’s at fault. It is the executives that choose courses of action that allow them to send their children to private schools, while the families of the downsized are forced to rely on charity so their children might simply be clothed. No corporation ever gutted a town to shift the labor offshore to a place with questionable safety and environmental policies, just to save a few bucks in labor. Corporate executives–people–developed, championed and executed 100% of those plans.

If we are to be seen and recognized as true leaders, we need to be create a reality where our people feel safe. Only when they feel safe, can they contribute unhesitatingly and completely to the enterprise. Only when our team knows that we have their back, will they be able to look outward. Toward the customer, the competition and the opportunities for the future.

That means, as a leader, you might have to take a smaller bonus from time to time. Or be castigated by Wall Street. You might even pay with your own job. But wouldn’t you do it protect your team? After all, they’d do it for you, right?

Inspired by Simon Sinek’s latest talk:


This entry was posted in Career, Leadership, Philosophy, Strategy and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Would You Fire Your Children?

  1. suebrady5 says:

    This is an interesting article. It makes me think of big banking bonuses taken during the government bail-out. In any event, in down times, even when temporary, I’ve seen time and again where companies take rash action and as a result lose valued employees they wish they still had once their business swings back up. Good food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. markpilip says:

    Thanks. I think we can fall into a trap of saying “it’s a corporate decision” when we do these things to people. I know I’ve fallen into that justification. But at the end of the day these are always decisions made by people and usually supported by bonuses and other distractions.

    You make a good point about people they’ve lost. When was the last time you heard of an executive being fired because they laid off too many good people when times were bad?


  3. Pingback: Extending the Circle of Safety Today | PilipBlog

Comments are closed.