Leadership Communication Case Study – How Some Leaders Undermine Morale, Motivation & Performance Without Realizing It – Pt. 1

Last week I had a meeting with a prospective client who at some point in the not too distant future is going to ask me to work with him.

He was explaining to me how he had recently lost trust in one of his key employees because this employee violated an articulated, but unwritten, company policy regarding the use of company-owned credit cards.

This forward thinking business owner provides all of his technicians, on the road in company vehicles, credit cards to be used strictly for company purchases, primarily fuel for the trucks they drive but also for miscellaneous items they made need to fulfill customer service while in the field.

In this situation the technician used his company card for personal reasons when his personal card was declined while making a gift purchase for his wife during a recent holiday. As the discussion with this employee ensued and the apology was asked for and accepted, this employee voluntarily admitted to a similar but smaller purchase indiscretion a few months prior.

In the interest of maintaining the  positive attitude and high-morale of an otherwise high-performing employee much needed in the field to fulfill present levels of customer service demands at a busy time of year, the business owner gave this employee a verbal reprimand and they came to an agreement that this would not happen again putting the incident behind them.

The incident was put behind with one slight caveat.

The business owner decided to rescind all credit cards issued to each of this technicians in the field to replace them with specific brand-only gas cards, such as a Hess or Exxon-Mobil card that can only be used at fill-up stations.

Recently I presented a webinar on “The Secrets of the Goldilocks ‘Just Right’ Leadership Style” in which I discussed three distinct leadership approaches, one of them I call “Command & Control,” the opposite style is “Avoid & Let Go,” and the third that I work with my executive leadership clients to become is “Engage & Enroll.”

Approaching an employee relationship issue in this manner is on the “Command & Control” side of the continuum.

In the discussion I had with this business owner, who said his focus when communicating with his staff was always on maintaining high-levels of morale, I asked him “how might his communication style and focus be actually hurting morale?”

He had no answer. He was confused. He couldn’t understand how his communication style could be hurting employee morale since he was communicating in a such a supportive, forgiving and empathetic manner.

This type of leadership communication is detrimental to high levels of employee morale, motivation and trust in the workplace. And, also high levels of performance because this is not Champion Leadership Communication!

I am going to explain why in my blog article next week…

in the meantime, in the interest of encouraging discussion I ask that you leave a comment with your thoughts as to how you would handle a similar situation if you were leading this company and why.

I look forward to reading and assessing your leadership communication solutions!

‘til next time, make it a great weekend!

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