An executive recently complained to the superior of a fellow executive in the same company that Bob, not his real name, was often insubordinate, sat on people’s desks, flexed his muscles, and was a know-it-all. Bob’s boss replied, “Bob’s OK, he’s just weird.” The executive, a client of mine, relaying this story to me felt confused because she saw this person as being condescending, but yet couldn’t understand why she felt that way and so blamed herself. When I asked this executive if she would let her son speak to her that way, she replied, “Good grief, no!” Why is this situation any different?
It just so happens that my client has her eyes on the CEO position when the current CEO retires in a few years. If Bob’s behavior is allowed to continue, do you think he will stop just because this person is now the CEO? Bob will take great pride in his ability to talk to such a superior in this manner, belittle the now CEO, behind her back of course, and generally help lace the organization’s culture with this condescending behavior company wide. The behavior now becomes accepted and the norm. What’s a budding CEO to do?