You know it’s Spring in Texas when the Live Oak trees drop their leaves. And then we brace ourselves for the green pollen that will blanket our patio furniture, cars, and driveways. A couple of weekends ago my husband and I were enjoying the warm weather; he was smoking a brisket and I was burning the raked leaves. I’m not sure what enjoyed more – the raking or the burning.
Once our work was complete, we closed out the day basking in the glow of the burning embers. Our endeavors as leaders is just like a fire that turns leaves into ashes or raw beef into a succulent meal. Fire can be used to build something better, to eradicate an annoyance, or for our own personal gratification. Just this week Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook have been raked through the coals for allowing app creators to exploit user data, but they have been feeling the heat for some time now on the ways their platform is used in hurtful and illegal ways.
Zuckerberg’s statement was anemic and he ought to learn a few things about responding to a crisis. While I do not condone Facebook’s actions, they are absolutely clear on who their customer is and Cambridge Analytica was one of them as much as we hate to admit it. Customers and clients are important, but not at the expense of your product or service. Their loyalty to their corporate clients came at the expense of their stakeholders.
What can leaders learn from Facebook’s latest crisis?
Know your customers. Know your stakeholders. Evaluate your decisions based on both. And for goodness sake, have ethics and integrity behind closed doors or like Zuckerberg, you might get burned by your own fire.