So, I’m watching an old movie this weekend, “In Harm’s Way.” It’s about a U.S. naval Captain (John Wayne) who has his career derailed after the attack on Pearl Harbor. After an interminable time as a desk-jockey doing little important, the Navy realizes they need this guy to go out and win battles.
Enter Admiral Nimitz, played by Henry Fonda. He invites all the muckety-mucks to a men’s-only dinner and cigar party (my kind of place), where he gives Wayne his official promotion to Rear Admiral, effectively acknowledging the Navy’s error.
Nimitz says, “The Navy, we all know, is never wrong, though sometimes it’s a little weak on being right.”
Feel free to substitute your, my, or any of a number of other names for “The Navy” above. Sometimes we forget that doing the short-term “right” is not always the same thing as doing the right thing. In other words, sometimes we’re a little weak on being right.
Now, typically when people — ok, ok, “consultants” — use an example like this, the conversation goes in an expected, typical direction. I’d like to use a different example.
For instance, a top sales guy is unable to complete various required reports in a timely manner. Someone (usually HR) convinces us that we need to “be consistent;” if we discipline others for this egregious — nearly heinous — act, we are summarily forced to do the same thing with this top sales performer.
I say that’s a load of bunk. Absolute, positive, cowardly crap.
And it is cowardly.
Take the courage… use it, find it, or make it, to NOT fall victim to being a little weak on being right. Do the right thing, even if (maybe even particularly if) it seems unfair to average or mediocre performers. Worry about the high-performing sales guy in question; spend zero time being concerned about all those others who only wish you would treat so deferentially.
After all, who can argue with Admiral Nimitz?? Or Henry Fonda?? Certainly not The Duke…??