TheUC 028: Getting Business Done with Bad Managers


When getting business done, you will have to deal with bad managers. However, business still needs to get done. It is very difficult to be the one who has to point out that the Emperor is naked. So here’s a bit of a conundrum: Are you going to believe in truth above harmony? Or would you prioritize harmony above truth? Both philosophies have intention for long-term value creation. Someone who puts harmony above truth will let slide some bad behavior or some inaccurate facts so as not to offend someone and indulge a relationship they have convinced themselves is necessary to get business done. Be careful in putting harmony above truth. This is where someone is actually putting their want to be liked above the genuine needs of getting business done. In the process they are excusing this behavior by saying they are fostering a long-term relationship. In the same vein, there are times when harmony needs to prevail in getting business done. Relationships matter, and there will be times when you need to align incentives to prioritize long term value. Don’t be a naked emperor. Always do right over being right. It isn’t always easy. The messenger still gets shot, but getting business done means you might have to rock the boat in the short term to ensure smooth sailing for the long term.

  • Maintain the integrity of the relationship
  • KEEP the lines of communication OPEN regardless of whether or not the deal goes through
  • Communicate clearly & keep your conscience clear
  • Avoid temper tantrums…and don’t indulge them in others.
  • Place the long term value of the deal above being ‘liked’
  • Don’t fear temporarily rocking the boat.
  • Don’t devalue someone just because the parameters of the deal may have changed.
  • Beware of placing truth above harmony…or harmony completely above truth. Do right over being right.

If you are crossing a bridge and you see a crack in the foundation, do you stop and fix it?

  • Is this bridge worth saving?
  • Do I want to turn around and cross a different bridge?
  • Is the investment already made worth fixing the bridge so it is strong enough to successfully cross and perhaps made strong enough so it can be crossed by many more in the future.
  • How can I maintain the value that currently exists without destroying it regardless of whether or not the bridge is worth fixing?

You have 3 choices…if you want to at a minimum attempt to maintain the value that is there…Remember that burning the bridge is NEVER one of them

  • First: Stick your head in the sands of ignorance. You can ignore the problems in the bridge and believe them to be minor and cross the bridge and convince yourself that you did the right thing because you didn’t rock the boat.
  • Second: You can decide that you will just smile and nod at the bridge and those crossing and say, Thanks, but I’m going to cross a different way.
    • For Issues 1 & 2: While you can convince yourself this is done with the interest of long term value, you are really just enabling the damage of the bridge…it is like those folks who see someone who may be lost or in need in some way and choosing to not help because you assume someone else will, and it isn’t going to be your problem.
  • Third: You can decide that you’ve invested a lot into this bridge and you believe there is still great long term value in crossing it, so you decide you will make efforts to fix it
    • Not every will appreciate this option. People may get offended, and they still shoot the messenger.