Hello, John Fallon here.

Why would a vice president of a large corporation spend an afternoon cleaning up debris in the parking lot? Or why would he take a morning to rearrange furniture in the offices?

Maybe he does it to relieve stress. Maybe he just wants to get away from his desk and move around a little bit.


The wrong job

Fact is, I don’t know why he cleans out the cabinets or other assorted jobs which are really the responsibility of the janitors or the building maintenance man. But I know the vice president does these sorts of odd jobs.

Other company employees may look at the vice president doing these menial labor tasks and say to themselves “That’s what he’s like.” Or “That’s just the way he is.” Or “He’s an odd duck.” But they’re wrong. It’s not just what he’s like.

The vice president is doing these menial jobs because his boss, the company Chief Executive Officer, allows the vice president to do these jobs. As long as the CEO does not address the behavior of his direct report, then it is the CEO who is enabling his vice president to spend his time on these sorts of tasks, which are, obviously, in no way related to the job description of a Vice President of Finance.


Passive encouragement

The VP is allowed to continue in that dysfunctional behavior because the CEO hasn’t dealt with the behavior. By avoiding the issue of the VP’s behavior, the CEO is empowering the VP to engage in these random acts.

The CEO is enabling the VP to act badly, i.e., to clean parking lots, pack boxes, move furniture, etc., which is in no way related to the job description of a VP of Finance. If the CEO has not tried to change the behavior of his VP, then the problem lies with the CEO and not with the VP.

If the CEO wants to maintain status quo, then he can continue to say nothing. But if the CEO wants a functional team comprised of people who do their jobs, then the CEO needs to address the behavior of his vice president.

This syndrome was originally spelled out in more detail by Gary Klugiewicz, who used this same line of analysis in explaining why the jails are dirty. Sure, the inmates may not clean up after themselves. But who allows the inmates not to clean up after themselves? The guards. And who allows the guards to overlook the cleanliness of the cell block? The captain of the guards. And so on, right up to the Warden. The jail is dirty because the warden allows it to be dirty.


Taking responsibility

The same principle applies to any kind of business, not just Corrections. The concept of why do people in business act the way they do—it’s because they are allowed to act that way. The line of responsibility extends upward, whether we’re in a jail or in a corporate headquarters.

Verbal Defense & Influence teaches us how to take responsibility for the behavior of those who are entrusted to our care. VDI teaches us communication skills that will allow us to modify the unwarranted behavior of those entrusted to our care, whether they be an inmate or a business colleague.


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