Leadership In Trying Times

No matter what sector you work in, there will be hard times. As a leader, you must stand up for the decisions made, even if they may be controversial. I’m not saying there are not times to reflect upon additional knowledge and grow over time, but staying true to your decision is respectable in many situations.

I’m sure you have heard about Harambe the Gorilla that had to be euthanized by Cincinnati Zoo officials last week. I am a huge animal fan but understand their place on earth is not equal to that of mankind. It is very sad that Harambe was put down.

Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard has one of the hardest jobs in America this week. I do not know Mr. Maynard nor have I been to the Cincinnati Zoo in over 25 years, but I’m going to go out on a limb and assume Mr. Maynard was an animal lover. Not only having to make the call as a Zoo to put down a beautiful creature but also live with that decision after the MMQBs (Monday Morning Quarterbacks) show up is brutal.

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum of how the situation was handled, there are potential lessons to be learned from Mr. Maynard. Some of the best growth opportunities come from bad situations. Instead of pointing fingers, maybe we should reflect upon some positives.

A Beautiful Life

This about the number of children who learned about animals as they saw Harambe on exhibit over the years. The countless number of learning opportunities that Harambe contributed to is astonishing. But there are so many other things that can be learned from this bad outcome.

  • Sometimes leaders must make decisions that are contrary to their personal feelings.As I stated above, I assume Mr. Maynard loves animals and this decision goes against everything his job stands for as a zoo director. Big decisions require big shoulders. Sometimes those big shoulders have to make a decision that goes against what they stand for. This isn’t an ethics or values issue, it is a fact of life.
  • Leaders must stand strong in decisions, but not arrogant.There is a difference in standing by a decision because it is the mark of a strong leader and being bull-headed. Remember that arrogance can be the only difference between the two. Just as making the decision is hard, standing by it when the critics start could be even harder. Hopefully, you have built an A team of an inner circle to talk with about standing by the decision or looking at additional facts to be strong enough to acknowledge when a decision was in error.
  • Criticism does not equal wrong doing.Just because someone or even a large group of people are criticizing you means you did something wrong. There are generally groups on polar opposites of most issues. Look at politics for example, you have extreme left leaning liberals and extreme right wing conservatives. Just because a group criticizes the other doesn’t mean they are right.
  • You cannot please everyone.One of my favorite sayings my wife taught me was “If you try to be everything to everyone, you quickly become nothing to no one.” Wow, powerful words. As a leader, you must remember you will not please everyone. You are not supposed to. Try to please you top 20% of power employees as long as it aligns with the integrity and ethics of your organization and self.


Question: What are some other positives that can be learned from Harambe’s death? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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