Ethical Leadership (Case Study) Part I
Received a call from Arun, a young executive I had coached a couple of years back. His organisation was on the verge of a major reorganisation then and he was faced with the difficult choice of whether to stay or to move on. The business Arun was handling was going to be either divested or merged into the combined larger entity, where it could well lose both its identity and independence.
In many ways, it was an opportune time for Arun to move on and seek newer challenges outside. He was well regarded in that particular industry vertical and often received calls from search consultants to check his interest in exploring other options outside. Arun was confident that, by reactivating the same network he could easily land himself on a good break.
But, Arun was faced with an ethical dilemma. His exiting the organisation at this juncture would leave his team in the lurch during a challenging transition. He decided to have a conversation with the CEO and Head of HR – who were full of reassurances about the future and sought his support as a member of the senior leadership team in dealing with the period of turbulence. He was told that, he had been identified as one of the critical resource of the company and, therefore, handpicked for a very attractive retention bonus. The company also launched a campaign – with the help of external consultants – to boost the morale of the employees during the transition calling it “Chalengey Saath, Saath, rahenge paas, paas” (will walk together and stay close to each other”).
After a lot of soul searching, Arun decided to stay on. Upon consideration, he felt even after the merger or divestment his own market value is unlikely to depreciate. Besides age was on his side. While the back-ended bonus was definitely an attraction, he was motivated by a sense of responsibility towards the team he had nurtured over the years to become one of the best the company has ever had with some of the finest resources in the industry.
Cut to July 2016 . In a short and terse meeting – the CEO and HR Head informed Arun, the new owners had decided to close down the business unit he was handling. While Arun’s own job was secure (at least for the time being, Arun thought to himself), the rest of the team will have to be retrenched. Of course, the company was willing to consider a generous separation bonus but those will come with certain riders – such as not joining a competition in the next one-year months.
Stunned, Arun had to fight hard to contain an outburst. He felt cheated and let down. At the same time, he blamed himself for not seeing it coming all this while and being naïve enough to believe the promises of the CEO and Head of HR two years ago.
Back in his room – he picked up the phone to set up a coaching conversation with me. We agreed to chat over phone the following weekend to discuss how as a coach I can be of help to him.
It was one of the most difficult Coaching engagements with an old client I have handled in recent times.
I began to toss in my mind what the questions Arun should be asking himself to find a way forward.
Any thoughts, Dear Readers?
Continued in Part II Click here to read
Note: Case narrated with permission of the Coachee. Name changed and organisational context modified for maintaining confidentiality