Revenge, Paid Forward

running_the_gauntletBad experiences happen to everyone. Most of us learn to roll with them. But occasionally, we nurse a hurt into a grudge, and the grudge into a behavior that looks a lot like a pay-it-forward revenge.

Here’s what seems to happen:

Bad experience —–> anger —–> resolution to be fair when it’s your turn to lead —–> repeat the injustice when you get the power.

Instead of “I hated the short maternity leave when I was having my baby, I’m going to make it easier for the next generation,” I’m hearing “I didn’t have any leave, I don’t see why you should have it.”

It doesn’t sound like leadership, it sounds like revenge. Maternity leave is just an example. I’m seeing this vengeful behavior in mentoring, regulating job loads, hiring practices, loyalty, working in teams, even fidelity. Is this improving life and work?

I understand how it happens. Children with abusive parents often become abusive adults because it’s how they learned to handle power. It’s all they know.

Must we now see this effect in business? Employees with bad supervisors grow into bad supervisors themselves. Time to break the cycle.  It will take some work, some planning. You’re going to have to take your anger and change the outcome.

Retribution is like stabbing yourself a thousand times to punish the other person. You can start to change the world today. By being fair, even when you were not treated fairly.

—Quinn McDonald hears a lot about behavior at work. Not all of it is fair.