I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t worry constantly about leading in the #MeToo era. I often worry about what if this happens under my watch or in an organization that I align myself with? As the events of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Donald Trump, Kevin Spacey and many more have overflowed, we’ve seen many different reactions. Most have been overwhelming displays of shock and disgust but these are high profile examples of far too common behaviors that many men and women experience in their workplaces across the globe.
I compare it to getting a small whiff of something foul smelling. Sometimes it’s so small when it begins that you doubt that you even smelled it all. Sometimes it stays very subtle until you uncover a large pile of dead rats festering in the walls. It is our responsibility as leaders to hold everyone above or below us accountable.
It’s what we do when the whiff of foul air hits our nostrils that matters most.
Let’s stop and imagine for a moment the emotional trauma that someone who is the victim of sexual harassment goes through. Even better, check out Angela’s story in “5 Devastating Truths Organizations Should Know About Sexual Harassment.”
Stories are the vessels that take us on our journeys and carry us to far away places. Storytelling is a powerful tool that transcends cultural boundaries. Stories spur people to adventure, play or restitution. We find hope, deliverance, faith and even freedom in stories. I firmly believe that stories have the power to change lives.
As leaders we must act and express our intolerance for such actions on a consistent basis. Here are 7 effective leadership methods that leaders must adopt in the #MeToo era.
- Trust your intuition. One cockroach is often evidence of many more and small issues can quickly grow into something much more. Nip bad behavior in the bud. Look for the warning signs and do some probing. If it sounds like a duck, looks like a duck and quacks like a duck it’s definitely not a cow. Guess what, it’s a duck! Follow your intuition and find ways and foster trust with your employees.
- Empower your teams to have small group conversations. I said it before and I’ll say it again. Stories are powerful tools in organizations. Empower your teams and leaders to talk about harassment prevention in a casual setting.
- Be present and engaged. Don’t be fooled by labels or stereotypes. Well he’s a family man or she’s a woman or they’re so nice or I just can’t see him or her doing it so it can’t be true. Unfortunately many of those who have gotten away with sexual harassment have been people who were unsuspecting because of their position or or family.
- Implement the practice of talking about it in on-boarding. Make sure that your HR teams set the tone in on-boarding for each and every new hire and/or put every new hire through sexual harassment awareness training.
- Hold a leadership summit to increase awareness. Make sure that your leadership teams are capable and trained. Take it seriously and commit to being part of the solution. #notonmywatch
- Cultivate an ecosystem that expels sexual harassment. Organizations can cultivate these types of communities by raising the standard and calling out bad behavior regardless of rank.
- Develop an alcohol policy. Be vigilant when alcohol is served at company events and outlaw inappropriate behavior from ALL who attend.
“We can’t let bad behavior slide anymore. Things are changing for the better.”
– Jimmy Kimmel