RIM exec filled with sour grapes or champion of the under trod?

Posted July 6, 2011 in Career Management, Communication, Latest News & Insights

My friend Mark is always championing our blog over here at Roundtable Talk and called me this week to suggest a post about the “open letter” from the Executive at RIM who’s “valiantly” raising red flags about the dire issues within the company.  After reading the letter, and then RIM’s response plus other “anonymous” employee’s open letters, I started thinking about the difference between being a corporate whistleblower and a saboteur.

During the Enron and Worldcom debacles of the last decade, a group of employees were highly lauded for “blowing the whistle” on the financial shenanigans going on in their companies.  These shenanigans eventually brought both companies to their knees and wiped out thousands of employee’s livelihoods.

Contrast this to this anonymous “open letter” from a supposedly high level RIM executive.  The complaints (when you boil them down) are primarily about how Mike and Jim (and other execs) are leading the company (not about illegal  ccounting practices).  Posting the letter has taken the whole “bitching about your boss” to a new level.  One that may, or may not, have the effects intended.

Personally, I find this to be the antithesis of leadership.  For a senior executive (if  in fact that’s true) to do a public bashing on the senior team reflects as much on him or her as it does on the intended targets.  If things are really that bad, fight the fight internally and get yourself fired, rather worrying about a “career limiting move”.  At least you’ll go out with your dignity and values intact.

Whoever this “executive” is, they certainly don’t display one of the key characteristics of leadership: courage.  No leader is perfect, no organization is perfect.  But, as a senior leader it’s YOUR JOB to speak up and make yourself heard.  If that’s not working, then move on.  I would have loved to have heard specific examples of how this anonymous exec had tried to voice concerns in the past.  Instead we get a bunch of griping about (essentially) corporate strategy, communication and morale… something that every organization struggles with and that leaders (like the one complaining) are supposed to help fix.

In every organization, you’ll find people who bitch about the issues and contribute to making workplaces toxic.  And, you find people who have the guts to step up and take an unpopular stand because it’s the right thing to do.  And they don’t do it by hiding behind social media.

As a leader, it’s important to fight hard inside and then show a united front outside.  For a person who claims to care so much about RIM’s future, I can’t see how this type of action is helpful to the company and to the employees who they purport to be advocating for.  To me this smacks more of sabotage than whistleblowing.  What’s your take?

Happy leading!

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  1. Even simpler… if you’re gonna do it, do it right. Going public? Tell people who you are. Anonymity erases credibility.