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Leadership Communication Case Study – How Some Leaders Undermine Morale, Motivation & Performance Without Realizing It – Pt. 2

Last week’s business leadership case study on the employee who violated the credit card trust created a nice discussion with a variety of related strategies offered to address the issue. I encourage readers of this post to check out the original case study here and peruse the comments and feel free to continue to add to the discussion there, and here below.

This is definitely a case of “punishing the many for the sins of the few” as Jeffrey offered in his comments. Good employees who did not violate the credit card trust are being penalized due to no behavior of their own. This will lead to the unintended consequence of disenchantment among previously happy employees and open the potential for eroding trust and morale between the business owner and these other employees.

In my white paper report The 7 Deadliest Sins of Leadership & Workplace Communication this fits under communication sins of a Lack of Directness & Candor.  To read more about it and to download the report free go to

Here’s how I would have advised this business owner had he been my client:

  1. Review and clarify the desired proper protocol for the credit card policy as originally intended with the individual who violated the credit card trust.
  2. Make it very clear that any further unauthorized use of the card will be grounds for immediate dismissal with no opportunity for explanation or restitution.
  3. At the next team meeting when its most appropriate generate a discussion among and between all team members to identify potential suggested adjustments to the future credit card usage policy in the context of enhanced customer service.
  4. Have the team members discuss the proper use of the credit cards to which they are entrusted and suggest their own guidelines for usage they believe are fair and reasonable. The team with the owner will then discuss, refine and finalize to create a ‘team agreement’ all team members will be required to sign and be willing to be held accountable to.

With this approach the policy is generated by the employees who are responsible for the respectful use of the cards. During the meeting the business owner can explain why it is inappropriate and logistically cumbersome for tax purposes and bookkeeping processes to deal with reimbursing personal expenses on company credit cards. Then everyone can move on with a clearly understood policy all team members had a hand in developing that can be used for all future employees.

This is how I would recommend handling the situation on the micro level.

There is another level that this and other company culture issues should be addressed, the macro level.

Without a company strategy that encompasses the overall Vision, Purpose and organizational Values the company is a rudderless ship. Policies are important for maintaining “control” and having something in place for the legal side of HR which is one component of the business, but it will not create a high-performance  “Engage & Enroll Championship Culture” for the right reasons.

It will create a “Compliance Culture” that will exhaust and frustrate those that have to invest significant time and energy to keep people in line performing and behaving within the guidelines imposed.

By creating the macro level strategy it will set the stage for the company culture that should come with a process for integrating and on-boarding new employees so that the desired company culture perpetuates. To learn more about some ways to do this download my first ever white paper report The 3 Strategies of Champion Organizations at this link.

I look forward to your comments on my approach to this leadership communication case study.

’til next time, make it a great week!

skip weisman, transforming leadership and workplace communication to deliver champion level results


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