Well it was only a matter of time before we saw it again.
People seem to easily forget that celebrities and CEO’s are human too. That means a small percentage will also do things that surprise the rest of us.
This time it was Scott Thompson, now former CEO of Yahoo, the beleagured internet company, uncovered as having lied on his resume.
His claim was to have a double degree, when an unhappy investor discovered that one of those degrees was not even offered by Thompson’s school until after he had graduated!
Three things that Thompson did that accelerated his downfall;
1. He first of all pleaded ignorance.
2. Then he lied, blaming it on of all people his headhunters.
3. Finally he did not apologise
It now has been reported that Thompson may be suffering from thyroid cancer, my empathy to him if that is the case. But his actions have now damaged a leadership brand that previously had been held up as a technology success and likely a strong factor in his being hired for the Yahoo position.
Hopefully you will never be in this situation or something similar, but if you are follow the ABC (Always Be Contrite) model;
Admit all that you know about the situation. Come clean. People will react badly for sure, but not nearly as much or for as long if you drag things out.
Be truthful. Do not lie. This is worse than trying to hide the truth and could damage your personal brand for the long term.
Apologise unreservedly for any errors or mis-judgements that are yours.
Cop for the offence. Take full responsibility and accountability. This is likely your only hope for keeping your job, but be prepared for the inevitable that you might have to resign.
Thompson may not be concerned about working again, although reports say there is no severance package and Yahoo may be asking for $7 million in damages. But most of us are likely going to have to and want to work again. So if you do have to, do it on your terms, do not leave it to others to fire you. Falling on your sword when it is entirely your doing really is the only honorable thing to do
Do you think Thompson handled this the right way? Would you have done things differently?
Paul Copcutt Paul Copcutt first identified with personal branding after reading Tom Peters’ ‘Brand You 50’ in 1999. Now a sought after speaker and media resource, he has been featured in Forbes, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and Elle. He works with entrepreneurially-minded people to help them design YOU Inc.