React Emotionally, or Respond Wisely?



photo credit: Peter DaSilva for The New York Times
Tim Armstrong

“Abel, put that camera down right now! Abel, you’re fired. Out!”

This was how Tim Armstrong, Chief Executive of AOL, fired an employee during a conference call with more than 1,000 employees of Patch, AOL’s struggling local news service. Talk about reacting.  Obviously the man was triggered by something. He did not think. He did not respond wisely. He was like a nuclear reaction, and he just went off with all kinds of ripple effects, including jeopardizing his high-ranking, high-paying, highly important job.

In a follow up letter to the staff, Mr. Armstrong explained that the employee had been warned previously not to make recordings of confidential meetings. But there are so many other ways this could have been handled from a wise leader’s point of view, from an adult position, and from a healthy stance that would have sent a much clearer message to all those present.

Mr. Armstrong had a valid point and could have been applauded for the way he handled this situation, instead of being embarrassed and threatening his own livelihood.

From the Core Alignment viewpoint we can imagine that he was already spinning prior to this incident, as he planned for this event in which layoffs and management changes were to be discussed. A point was made, yet it wasn’t the point he wanted to make.

The choice really is yours. Being clear on what you want, what you are going to ask for, how you show up, and how you keep your word, really will bring more gratitude naturally. Instead Mr. Armstrong is now spinning like crazy as he gets picked up by the tornado he created and carried off to the land of oz. Maybe a wizard can help him. Maybe not.

Read more about the incident in the New York Times.


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