Over the past few weeks, a great deal has been written about Bill O'Reilly's alleged sexual harassment at Fox News. I'm using "allegedly," in no small part because O'Reilly was allegedly paid $25 million on his way at the door from Fox News and can clearly afford far more attorneys (real or alleged) than I can.
I'll take a slightly different tack on the scandal by referring to a statement O'Reilly allegedly made last year:
"If somebody is paying you a wage, you owe that person or company allegiance," said O'Reilly. "You don’t like what’s happening in the workplace, go to human resources or leave."
For someone who has written multiple books about leaders, this statement demonstrates a stunning ignorance of how leadership works.
Loyalty is not something a company buys by handing out paychecks (no matter the size). Leaders earn trust, and eventually loyalty, by treating employees fairly and by maintaining a safe and respectful working environment. We earn loyalty when we lead well.
What happened at Fox News--from Roger Ailes to Bill O'Reilly--was more than alleged personal failings by outsized egos. They failed as leaders. Sexual harassment isn't a problem to be relegated to the HR department. Leaders at every level in an organization must address toxicity--no matter its shape or size. The feudal lord attitude of "adapt or die" didn't work in the Middles Ages and it doesn't work now.
I doubt O'Reilly will ever see this but on the off chance he does, I have a suggestion for his next book:
"Killing Fox News."
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