Do the Right Thing

Success should not be measured in what you buy or own but in the pride you feel in the person you’re with when you are all alone!


A key and valued employee asks for a few minutes. Closes the door. Then comes the news you weren’t expecting, they have taken a job…with a competitor. The range of emotions kicks in immediately. Disappointment, frustration, confusion, anger, anticipation.

Where did I fail? What could I have done differently? Can we salvage this? How will we operate without them? What is the impact on the rest of the team?

A client called recently with this situation. The executive team went into immediate evaluation and response mode. They did an exemplary job of determining options for  the company, reassessing qualifications for the position, examining how to search for a replacement, and much more. They conducted an immediate and well thought out process to replace the employee, reviewing the situation with the team, responding to clients, and finding a replacement.

Now there was another step to take. One that most people will not do. I suggested that my client phone the CEO of the competitor and tell him that this employee had been an outstanding worker, that they were hiring a good person, and that he felt the employee would do a great job for the new company. And add that if they could do anything for the  new CEO to please let him know.

I got a surprised look from my client at this suggestion, then he realized that it was probably a good idea. It feels awkward at first, then we conclude it’s the right thing to do. We can develop the habit of doing the right thing. It comes dressed in a tough uniform sometimes. But it’s a good habit with which to lead.

It is a good exercise to list some other “right thing to do” actions. Keep the list handy, it’s a good reference when you have a surprise or want to react in a way that you know you’ll regret. “Is it the right thing to do” is one of the pillars of Rotary International. Make it a tenet of your personal and professional lives.


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