Flame-shifting or Fame-shifting

Watching a company press conference can be an education about leadership. For example, when a natural disaster strikes the business it’s often the CEO that takes on the role of “consoler-in-chief”. We expect his or her words to soothe fears and build confidence about the future of the company. However, if an “unnatural disaster” hits the business we expect his or her words to have candor, remorse, and accountability for the actions that put everyone’s job at risk (i.e., the boss did something illegal/unethical and got caught or made a terrible decision that cost the business its reputation and financial stability). If you ever find yourself in a company-wide meeting in either of those 2 scenarios, take note on whether your boss is a flame-shifter or a fame-shifter.

flame-shifting-ceoThe Flame-shifter seeks to minimize their role in these so-called “unnatural” disasters and direct blame onto someone in their ranks, someone outside the company, or circumstances beyond their control. Or perhaps a natural disaster halts a company’s ability to operate and generate income. If the business was ill-prepared for such calamities then it can be said that the leadership is to blame (e.g., insufficient backups, insurance lapses, no contingency plan, etc). In this case the flame-shifter will turn the heat on others but forget that he or she is ultimately responsible for the performance and readiness of the company.

It is a funny thing how removing one letter from a term can totally flip its meaning, in this case “l”.

fame-shifter-ceoThe Fame-shifter, however, tells stories about how specific people chipped in, sacrificed, and went above-and-beyond to get the company up and running after a natural disaster. And if bad corporate behavior gives employees thoughts of exodus, it is the fame-shifter that accepts responsibility, asks for patience, and encourages everyone to keep calm and carry on. The fame-shifter knows that every employee deserves recognition for good work and good decisions in a calamity, will seek to accentuate the positive, and recognizes that accountability starts at the top.

I’m lucky that all my bosses have been excellent examples on how to lead. Hopefully it’s the same for you.

So may the fame-shifters in your life keep shining when the flame-shifters keep whining! 😉

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