Watching the recent Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates and all of the political advertising has caused me to wonder why our culture has come to not only expect but also accept taking of the “low road”?
When you watch kids play sports, isn’t amazing of the amount of “trash talk” that’s going on. That is until you look around and listen to the parents and the coaches – role models of the “low road”, and a mirror reflection of our national culture.
You may ask, “What do you mean by the ‘low road’?” – It is when you behave expediently by doing what’s easiest and quickest or makes you the happiest in the short-run. Taking the “low road” is always self-serving.
Those traveling the “low road” tend to make emotional decisions that are reactive in nature. Deep down, this behavior is most often rooted in fear. Such behavior eventually leads to undesirable results and negative consequences.
Unchecked emotions will always override your intellect.
So what does it mean to take the “high road”? – It is when you exhibit principled behavior and believes that today’s short-term pain, sacrifices, and investment in time, energy, and money will eventually bring long-term growth, blessings, and success.
Those traveling the “high road” exhibit principled behavior rooted in faith – doing the right and honorable thing even if it is not the most popular or easiest thing to do – that creates a successful life. Taking the high road is marked by considering others before self.
“Always take the high road because there’s a lot less traffic there.”
Now let’s talk about a question that requires a leader to choose between the “low road” and the “high road”.
What will you, as the leader, do when one of your best employees leaves your organization?
Will you take the “high road” or the “low road” as they depart?
Early on in our business, I hired a trusted and loyal friend to work for our company.
Well, as you may guess, when he let me know he was leaving, my emotions kicked-in, and I took the “low road”. I told him everything that was wrong with him as though there was nothing wrong with me.
It was he who took the “high road”, calmly making the best decision for him and his new family.
Leaders Naturally Want to Keep Their Best People
Leaders want to do everything possible, within reason, to retain their best talent. And it was my desire to create and build a culture that would be so attractive that my best talent would never consider any alternative job offer.
The Crowded Low Road
I have often observed when a leader loses one of their best people, rather than celebrate (as hard as it may be) and wish their employee the best to where they are going, the leader’s pride and emotions (disappointment in losing their best talent) will override their intellect.
And the leader speaks ugly about the person and puts down the person before and after leaving to the remaining employees in the organization.
Furthermore when the person leaving hears of it (and they will), the relationship going forward will be broken rather than enhanced. The leader’s relationship with the remaining employee is also damaged by this “low road” behavior.
Onramp to the High Road
Over the years, I learned through the “school of hard knocks” there was a better way.
Every great leader can overcome the fear of losing their best employees by understanding four surprising truths.
Truth # 1 – Advancement Creates Opportunity
I found the turnover was not as destructive as you may think.
When our top performers move on to better things…
- Their departure opened the door for more top talent to flow into our company.
- It created opportunities for internal talent to flow through our organization.
Truth # 2 – Advancement Strengthens Your Reputation
We gained a reputation as a launching pad to supercharge a career.
Can you just imagine having outstanding, high-potential people who are smart and creative knocking on your door to join your team? Why? Because you have a reputation of a culture where people thrive and profits soar.
Truth # 3 – More People Actually Stay
I found when you offer a culture where you create unique opportunities for excitement, innovation, and advancement (managing the flow of talent through your organization), you will find that more of your top people actually wind up staying.
Truth # 4 – Former Employees Expand Your Network
I found when I took the “high road” rather than be upset or anxious about a top performer’s decision to leave, I got excited to congratulate the person.
I would lead our company to have a going away party for our employee.
I learned this “high road” approach left such a good taste in the departing employee that this star performer kept delivering benefits even when they stopped working for us.
I found they became…
- A future customer to my company.
- In some cases, a reliable supplier of products and services.
- One who would pass on business opportunities for us.
- A source of valuable information for continuous quality improvement ideas after departing.
- One of our best people to recruit and recommend new talent to our company.
The “high road” is a life philosophy that is governed by your moral compass, your personal code of ethics, and your values, at all times.
Taking the “high road” means you are able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of how you acted, or reacted, in light of a trying situation.
Taking the “low road” means that you succumb to fear and selfishly respond with equally nasty behavior.
Are you willing to give-up to go-up? Which road will you take? The choice is yours!
How do you react when you lose a top performer? Are you willing to lose a star performer to gain more top talent? Please share your comments <here>, and share this blog post with a friend or co-worker.