Don’t be a Corporate BS Surrogate!

Posted October 17, 2016 in Latest News & Insights, Leadership

In the madness that is the 2016 US election, one has to wonder how far one candidate can actually go before it’s ‘too far’? Yet, as much as Donald Trump is blowing my mind with his narcissism, his surrogates are the ones that are truly making my head shake. They make me continually sit and wonder how could any intelligent person sit and reinforce this man’s lies and behaviours? Watching them parade through CNN et al parroting Trump’s words has me yelling at the tv like the kid in the children’s story ‘The Emperor has no clothes!!!!’ And yet, their actions got me thinking… how many of us play the role of ‘Trump-esque surrogates’ in our own workplaces? Let’s pause on that for a second.

North American workplaces are full of lies shouted at us (quite often) by baby boomer leaders in bad suits. They’re designed to keep us tethered to our desks and lining up for mental health support. Here are a selection that I’ve heard from podiums, from sessions we run, and – quite honestly – parroted from my own mouth from time to time. See how many you’ve heard:

  • A 60++ hour work week is “normal”
  • Missing out on your kids extracurricular activities is part of the sacrifice anyone has to make who wants to be ‘serious’ about getting ahead
  • For people to be productive, they really need to be in an office
  • There is no gender/minority/sexual orientation bias anymore
  • When you choose to get pregnant you just have to accept that you’ll miss out on opportunities at work
  • If you don’t accept an internal promotion for a job you really don’t want, your career will be limited
  • You have to attend every meeting you’re invited to or else you’ll look bad
  • It’s normal to work from 9 p.m. to midnight after you put the kids to bed
  • Taking your phone on vacation is just something you ‘have to do’ if you’re in a senior management position
  • It’s completely normal to be tethered to your phone 24/7 these days
  • Executives deserve to get multimillion dollar pay cheques
  • A 9 to 5 workday is reasonable
  • Going to work sick ‘just has to be done’
  • Sometimes it’s just impossible to take your vacation

I hope that reading this list makes your head shake. But let’s be honest… how many of us stand up against these kinds of ‘corporate lies’ on a regular basis? I know I need to challenge myself around some of them. It’s tough… this stuff gets hardwired in and it’s easy to get brainwashed into thinking the abnormal is normal. It can take great courage to stand up against things that are wrong. Nobody likes to be uncomfortable and fear holds most of us back.

I’m sure there’s a lot of fear holding some of the Trump surrogates back. But, harder to reject than fear, I’m also sure there’s a lot of ego and personal agendas that are keeping them tethered to Trump’s derailing campaign. And that is perhaps, the hardest thing for any of us to overcome. Self awareness of your short comings and biases is one thing…doing something to change, something else entirely. Trump himself has said that he’s not one for introspection. And it’s not likely his surrogates are either.

But for me, I’m trying to take each day to learn a little more, do something a little differently and for the better. Are you with me? I hope so. Because our world needs less leaders like Trump and more like you and me.

Happy leading!


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