Could U be Uber?
“Any fool can criticize, complain, and condemn—and most fools do.” ~ Dale Carnegie
Today’s internet search for “Uber culture” yields bold headlines and damning phrases like “baller culture”, “aggressive, unrestrained workplace”, “toxic company” and “worst in silicon valley history”. Uber clearly has its hands full addressing the issues they now face that seem to stem from allowing culture by default rather than intentionally creating a culture by design.
But we won’t be piling on to bash Uber. Nor will we attempt to absolve Uber from their mistakes or the accountability for their self-inflicted wounds. There is no excuse for what they’ve allowed, so no excuse should be made.
This is instead a call to action for all fast-growing companies to focus where you must always begin.
You see, Uber may have reinvented how we get from here to there, but I promise you it didn’t invent bad company culture. History is ripe with five-star examples of what happens when we neglect to equip our leaders to lead; when we ignore the very-real impact of unconscious bias; when we eschew diversity; when we avoid personal accountability; when unfettered dysfunctional behavior becomes the norm; and when we fail to vigilantly protect the trust that’s foundational to healthy relationships and, by proxy, a healthy culture.
Yet, despite the myriad of bad examples in business (Uber, Wells Fargo), education (Missouri, Oklahoma) and sports (Baylor, Sacramento, FIFA), we seem to forget that none of these entities intentionally set out to fall from grace and join the list of cautionary tales.
There are essentially two options for each of us in the wake of Uber’s troubles: criticize, complain and condemn, or take an honest, hard look in the mirror.
One is easy and one is not. One requires an opinion and a corresponding air of superiority; the other requires self-reflection and humility. One is focused on today; one on tomorrow and beyond. One, frankly, is a waste of time, energy and money, while the other is a more fruitful use of resources.
While most of us can do little to positively impact the situation at Uber, we are all empowered to make these changes in ourselves and our companies.
So if you’re tempted to immerse yourself in the Uber blame game, step back a minute before judging. Allow their story to compel you to critically evaluate your own business and behavior, looking for cracks in the foundation and weak links in the chain that need repair. Otherwise, you might soon find yourself on full display in the crosshairs of Public Opinion wishing you had.