Friday, July 30, 2010

The fish rots from the head down.

My grandfather died when I was very young, yet I remember a handful of comments he made to me. I remember one in particular, as we left a store where a manager had been rude to us.

I must have said something about it because my grandfather's plain spoken response was: Son, the fish rots from the head down.

It sounded funny to me, so I remembered it. But now I understand what he meant: the quality of an organization's leadership is reflected in the actions and attitudes of its individual employees.

Ever walk into a store or office and immediate get a bad feeling, a bad vibe or whiff that something or several things just don't seem right? It could be a general sense of unease, an inability for employees to act with confidence, bad attitudes or a lack of attention to detail.

Whatever the symptom, that stinky smell means something is dead or dying at the top. No real passion for the business. No real commitment to employees. No respect for customers, beyond their ability to make leaders richer. Regardless, don't take it out on the employees, start by evaluating opportunities to re-engage, re-ignite and re-focus leadership.

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