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The NBC Debacle – Lessons for Business

Recently, disgraced NBS news anchor Brian Williams briefly emerged from the shadows to attend a fundraiser.  This was the first time he had been seen in several weeks.  Of course this approach is nothing more than damage control.  The tactic being to disappear and hide while waiting for other news to come into the spotlight, which of course shifts the focus of the public.

Just to recap, a large amount of media buzz regarding the purposeful reporting of incorrect information by Mr. Williams had been prevalent within the media prior to his exile.  Proving that even in this age of advanced technology and instant communication , there are still people who continue to try to pull the wool over the eyes of others.  But with so many people watching and scrutinizing their actions, plus the potential for things to go viral in the blink of an eye, it begs the question – Why do some people continue to behave in that manner?

Well, a significant portion of the answer is that in many cases like this, the perpetrator’s  ego has gotten way out of control.  Their belief in the illusion that they are on such a high pedestal and virtually untouchable clouds their judgment.  Another contributing factor stems from the delusional belief that they will not be caught – “Don’t worry, no one will ever catch on.  The rules don’t apply to you, you’re the exception!” – says their ego.  Yet they always do get caught eventually, and the repercussions extend far beyond the scope of the individual in question, and often end up hurting many other people as a result.

Ultimately, this situation is a tremendous learning opportunity for all business professionals.

Now let’s take a look at how all this relates to the corporate world, and the lessons that be gleaned from it:

  1. Damaged Credibility = Damaged Trust

It is a given that Mr. Williams significantly damaged his credibility, and that in turn equals damaged trust.  Of course, once trust is damaged between people, in most cases it will never be fully regained, it has become impaired permanently.

For all professionals (but particularly for CEOs, Executives, and Managers) the first lesson that needs to be realized here is that a person’s credibility is paramount not only to their individual success, but also to the success of their respective companies/corporations as well.

Quite simply, if the workforce of the company doesn’t have trust and belief in the words and actions of their Leadership, then everything else becomes moot.

2. The Downward Spiral

The next lesson here is that all individuals in business (with particular focus on those in leadership roles) must maintain the highest ethical standards, or they will end up looking like a joke and drag their respective companies/corporations down with them.  This drag then creates a negative domino effect that resonates across the spectrum.

Here are just a couple of examples of those negative effects and how they relate to various business areas:

  • Hiring

If the company is reflected poorly to the outside world due to the actions and/or the poor decisions of its CEO, Executives, or Management, then hiring will be negatively impacted.

How?  Well, due to their now negative reputation, that company will no longer be able to attract the best & brightest talent that they need to prosper and continue to be competitive.  It is a well-known fact that people will not go to work for a company they don’t believe in, unless there is absolutely no other choice.

Additionally, always remember that in this age of technology with its frequent, multiple surveys describing the best and worst places to work, there is no place to hide for companies or their leaders who continue to try to deceive the populace and potential future employees.   As can be expected, the ultimate effect is that a company’s poor reputation becomes tantamount to sending those highly qualified individuals right into the arms of the affected company’s competitors.

  • Revenue Loss

Damaged credibility can and does negatively affect revenue.  How so?  Well, it is not only Mr. Williams personally that has been tarnished, it is in fact all of NBC.  It is a well-known fact that

Credibility takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed in an instant.  So, there is a high level of probability that many viewers will now just simply write off NBC and find other news outlets for their attention. This in turn hurts everyone working at NBC by eroding the viewer base, which can greatly affect the sales of advertising time and subsequently advertising revenue.

Then, once revenue begins to fall, that is always followed by job cuts.  It must always be remembered that any company with damaged credibility can face a very similar situation.

3. Second Chances?

Don’t bet on it.

Obviously, Mr. Williams’ poor choices have tainted not only his reputation and damaged his legacy permanently, but it has also detrimentally affected NBC as a whole.  It is extremely unlikely that it could occur, but if by some miracle Mr. Williams did receive a second chance in some form, many people will never fully trust anything he says ever again.  They will always be questioning, watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop at any moment.

The Aftermath

Unfortunately, this will follow Mr. Williams for the rest of whatever remains of his career.  Just as it does for anyone who got themselves into a similar situation.  A sad ending to what could have been a phenomenal legacy.

Finally, in the wake of these events, hopefully other news outlets have reviewed their own reporting procedures and information, otherwise they could suffer from the same scandalous situation if they’re not careful.

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