Raising the level of your leadership

The 800 Pound Gorilla

“…in terms of wrongness—it’s 11 on a scale of 10.” That is how Judge Legrome Davis described the illegal activities of a Pennsylvania medical device maker that resulted in at least five deaths and four executives going to jail.

How did this happen? The company had “a corporate culture where people could not ‘stand up and stop things that were wrong, especially when they were coming from the top.’ ”

Who was at the top? An “800 pound gorilla” who ran the place in a way “where employees did what they’re told”—apparently even if it was illegal and dangerous. The gorilla was “intimidating” and “didn’t tolerate dissent.”

The quotes above are from Bad To The Bone, an article by Mina Kimes in the October 8, 2012, issue of Fortune. It is a shocking exposé of how greed for profit led to a “callous disregard of patient safety….” (Read the entire article at http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2012/09/18/synthes-norian-criminal/ or better yet, buy the magazine.)

So how does the story end? Five people unnecessarily dead; four necessarily in jail; the 800 pound gorilla is living happily ever after on the $10B he reaped from selling the company. That’s right. The one responsible for the anything goes culture was not prosecuted. Hopefully—at least I hope—he will be held responsible in the civil courts as lawsuits from the victims’ families proceed to conclusion.

How does this apply to you?

If you work in an organization led by an 800 pound gorilla, get out or get ready to take a stand. Sooner or later, you’ll have to do one or the other.

If you are an 800 pound gorilla, lose some weight. You may escape justice from the courts on earth; you won’t from the courts in heaven.

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© Copyright 2012 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company

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