What’s So Difficult About This?


Imagine this:

A company knowingly puts out a tainted product that sickens six hundred people and kills about a dozen more.

So what do they do? Meet with the families? Submit to an investigation? Admit their actions, and inactions?

No… today the head of that company (I won’t call him a leader) showed up before Congress and pleaded the fifth amendment until they told him to leave.

How does this happen, and why is taking responsibility so difficult?



Several months ago on a business trip, the president of a small company asked for my advice.

Two things were really interesting about the conversation. The first was that we had just met, and he was pouring out this major challenge. Describing the situation, they had clearly messed up… not a little… a lot. “How could he be unsure what to do?” I wondered. In my view, the solution was simple… and I told him so.

He didn’t like the answer; or should I say… he didn’t like part of the answer.

And I guess that was the other interesting part; I had suggested he do three very distinct things… with no delay. Suggestion two and three were process fixes, and he had no problem with those.
But suggestion number one, oh my… that he just couldn’t abide.

So what was this difficult… no, impossible… pill to swallow? Just this:

“I’m sorry.., I am very, very sorry.” And not from his staff… from him. I suggested that he, as the leader of his company, apologize… and with no thought of saving the business… they didn’t deserve it.

“No… no… no…, that would mean we’d have to admit we’re wrong… they would use that against us in the future.

I just don’t understand what is so difficult about this. The client already knew he was wrong… his staff knew he was wrong… he knew he was wrong. And as far as the future with that customer… there wasn’t going to be one.


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