I recently had lunch with a friend of mine. We get together on a semi-regular basis and, while we discuss many issues, most of our time is spent talking about our professional lives.
My friend came into his current career situation at a time of great transition for his company. The company was struggling, to say the least, and in desperate need of the leadership my friend had to offer.
The early conversations we had after he started working at this company were interesting. As I sat and listened to him describe the issues he inherited, I had to shake my head. The funny thing was, I wasn’t shaking my head at the situation, as much as I was at the level of energy and excitement he had for taking them on. I could clearly see that his company had chosen the right person to help with effective change management.
Over the next many months, the emotion my friend brought to our lunches changed. He described the challenges he faced from the ownership group, not the least of which was an almost complete lack of willingness to change their own behaviors.
Many of the owners’ behaviors were significant contributors to the problems the company faced. On top of that, they were now attacking my friend at almost every turn as he tried to bring about the necessary change. Not only were the owners not helping improve the situation, they were, in many ways, the biggest problem.
As you might imagine, gone was the giddy excitement and energy of our earlier lunches. Instead, it was replaced by an intense level of fierce determination. A determination that, quite honestly, bordered on anger, albeit a constructive anger from my perspective.
He was going to turn this thing around no matter what.
When we got together again recently, I was excited to hear about the latest news of his crusade. When I asked how things were going, he just stopped in obvious reflection. When he did speak, it was to basically say that it wasn’t even worth discussing. He was defeated and had given up.
His original energy and excitement that had been replaced with constructive anger had now been replaced with the most damaging emotion of all: apathy.
I was sad for him. And for everyone he was trying to help.
There was no fight left in my friend, but I found some of his former anger and took it back to the office with me that day. Anger at a group of owners who were so self-absorbed that they fought back at the very person who was capable of saving them from themselves.
Photo by Stmool