WHEN you reach the top, don’t forget where you came from. Behave properly. Set a good example.

Most of us spend the best part of our working lives struggling to get “there”. “There” means reaching the top, achieving financial stability and being in control of our own destiny — both at work and in life.

Those in this position become role models to others. But do they understand this and do they try to live up to this responsibility? Some do, many do not.

Observe modern celebrities. They contribute to our enjoyment and, in moderation, they are an innocent bit of fun. With the growth of media, especially social media, some celebrities have reached the status of a demi-god, so others look up to them, emulate them and wish to become like them.

When celebrities behave badly — as with drugs, promiscuous sex or flaunting excessive wealth — this becomes a concern.

Bad behaviour is not confined to celebrities. When people become confident, it is a step in the direction of becoming over-confident, and that means being arrogant. It’s a fine line between the two.

Sadly, people are no longer taught how to behave. At school and university, they study how to become successful, but they are never taught how to behave once they reach the top. It is important they should know this because, when they reach the top, they must pass on the right standards to others.

This is how their subordinates, the next generation and society as a whole will benefit. If they do not pay back something of what they have gained from society, they seem not worthy of the gain.


Bosses behaving badly

People who achieve wealth and position sometimes imagine themselves beyond the checks we have learnt about behaving well. You may have seen this happen to friends or colleagues. As they rise up the corporate ladder, they start to throw their weight around or become bullies in order to get their way.

Here is a quick behaviour test to see if this applies to you. Ask yourself the following:

â–  Would you like to see an e-mail on your behaviour circulated around the company or on Facebook?

â–  If you were hoping to impress someone (for example, a mentor, a date, or a well-respected individual), would you tell them about your behaviour?

â–  Would you tell your own parents about your behaviour and if you did, would they approve?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no”, think twice about what you are going to do. Your behaviour is not satisfying your own standards. It is not a good example to set for your peers or subordinates.

A good example of a boss behaving badly can be seen when a medium-tech, medium-size company decided to expand into Asia from its home base in the United States. The company hired a thoroughly intelligent, decent man to do the job. After his six-week training period in the US, the new Asian chief executive officer had got the message — blunt to the point of being rude, forthright as a crocodile whose nest is threatened.

So the new CEO started to run his business the way the Americans ran theirs. Disaster struck early. Staff left, sometimes within a week of joining. The women in the operation cried when he shouted at them, something he had learnt to do in Texas. We were called in shortly after the third sales director had left.

Our role-play sessions with the CEO were really rough. He got as good as he had given. We spared no sympathy for him. Why? Because we cared about him and about his success. We could mete out treatment he never thought he would receive.

He quickly realised that Texas is not Asia. A culture of rough handling was never going to work. He began to think about the people who worked for him, about their sensitivities and about what they were seeking from their jobs. He is still not a soft manager but he is a polite one now.

By exhibiting the right behaviour, those at the top can get staff to work for them because they want to — not because they feel bullied or scared of the consequences of doing a bad job. And this is what leads to the best results.


Article by John Bittleston, the chairman, chief executive officer and founder mentor of Terrific Mentors International, a group of skilled mentors, trainers and coaches with significant management experience, who share a passion for reviving balance sheets by helping people find purpose and meaning in their lives. For more information, visit www.TerrificMentors.com