Who do we want to be?

Mr. Kraft has put the NFL, the New England Patriots, and his family (among others) in a difficult situation.

Superstars do this all the time. By superstars, I don’t mean just celebrities and household names, but also our best sales person in that new emerging market we just entered. Superstars get the attention, the accolades, extra benefits, and ample resources. By treating them like royalty, they come to think that the king can do no wrong.

And then they do.

Which leaves those in charge with a difficult decision to make. It is a difficult one because the different stakeholders they serve often have different interests. Any disciplinary decision is likely to upset one or more of the stakeholders. On top of that, the decision must be made in the middle of a crisis.

If we know that this happens all the time, and that it forces us to make a difficult decision during a crisis, why not make the decision in advance? Why not decide in advance that if a superstar engages in a behavior that discredits the organization we will take a specific action? We should not only decide what action to take but also how it will be implemented. Of course, there should be room for judgement based on the actual facts, but all involved should presume that the predetermined action will be taken unless extraordinary circumstances require that it not be. This can provide a fair warning to those considering wrongdoing and can remove a certain amount of pressure from the decision-makers.

Making these decisions in advance will be easier but by no means easy. It requires of leadership that they explore two fundamental questions: who are we, and who do we want to be?

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