Rutgers University is in a lot of trouble, from the top down.
As you may know, they terminated their men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice, because he was physically and verbally abusive to the men he was supposed to be coaching. An assistant coach who took part in the hazing also stepped aside (though he’s apparently suing the university because he sees himself as part of the solution, not part of the problem).
When it was later discovered that the school’s AD, Tim Pernetti, and others — possibly including the president of the university, Robert Barchi — knew or should have known of the coach’s regrettable behavior before the video was leaked and didn’t fire him, the public demanded that more heads roll. Rutgers’ AD has resigned (but not without getting $1.2 million worth of severance pay) and social media are filled with demands for the university president’s head on a silver platter.
Whether or not you believe that the punishment fits the crime, clearly there is something systemically wrong with Rutgers. At several levels, most notably upper management, people shirked their responsibilities — responsibilities to the school, the students and staff, alumni, and all manner of interested parties. Communication wasn’t nonexistent but it was considerably less than optimal.
There are lessons here that businesses of all sizes can — and should — take to heart.
Maybe we don’t throw hard objects at our staff or scream at them continually. But maybe we know of someone in our organization who chronically abuses their staff, vendors, and their peers. Maybe we’re turning a blind eye to their suspect behavior.
Perhaps we’re using more insidious means of controlling our staff, like withholding praise, pay, or promotions. Whatever it is, we’re not behaving like leaders. We should not be surprised that we’re getting poor results. Tactics like those of the Rutgers men’s basketball coaching staff – and the inadequate response of higher management to the problem – can be avoided easily.
Transparent, not obscure. Taking responsibility, not assigning blame. Building up people rather than tearing them down. These are all keys to running a highly motivated, highly effective, and high quality organization. And before we point the finger of guilt at others, we should be asking ourselves if we’re behaving like leaders.
It’s your turn. Comment below or send me an email.