Are private actions relevant for business decisions?

Dealing with public statements by employees and leaders

Social media is omnipresent.

A ubiquitous presence of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram and more is inevitable. Whether you participate in this personally or not, social media is not only relevant in recruiting. Often, entire companies network through different platforms. Exchanging ideas, showing personality and also clearly conveying the message that an excellent organisation is often not just about work. However, these places online are also a source of conflict.

Photo by Jan Genge on Unsplash

How do you deal with this aspect as an organisation?


There are some principles to be observed in advance regarding potentially controversial statements.

No decision is made without hearing the other side. A decision must be made after hearing the sides involved. A decision is necessary; otherwise, it is assumed that leaders are unwilling or unable to do so. Both outcomes would be highly damaging to those leaders.

In addition, all decisions are always made on a case-by-case basis. It is generally neither possible nor permissible to conclude from one case and judge anyone based on an n=1 scenario.


Below are three examples which you can use as examples to get a picture.

Example 1:

Two young people on TikTok show that they do not work from home. This behaviour comes under public criticism. The organisation dismisses both of them immediately. This example was well received by managers. One aspect should be mentioned here: the decision is correct. However, the scientific evidence continues to prove that working from home mainly means more work with shorter breaks.

Example 2:

An executive comments on Facebook that the Covid 19 pandemic is made up and vaccinations cause autism. At the same time, this manager works for a science-driven company. The issue is raised. The highest management level refrains from taking action because the comments were “private”. Half of that executive’s team leaves the company within the next six months. Another third change departments. The top management is publicly criticised by name on portals such as Kununu and Glassdoor. Despite the possibility of doing so, there is no comment from the management level.

Example 3:

Two employees meet in a company and get married. Under the wedding photo on Instagram, one of their colleague’s comments, alluding to the Asian roots of the woman in the picture: “She has already received the best present. A residence permit.”. The situation escalated online and became an issue in the organisation on Monday. A few days later, the company dismissed the employee without notice.

(More examples in this week’s podcast — see link below).

These three examples show you the damage’s extent.

Accountability as a leader

Looking at the three examples above, you will notice one thing: Employees were dismissed. No action was taken when offences by the management level happened. Double standards or the avoidance of unpopular decisions are the most damaging actions a leader can show.

Often organisations talk about values, a solid construct of ethics and morals. When you talk about it, you act accordingly. These moments are called moments of truth in leadership. If you do not make decisions according to your values, you lose your social legitimacy as a leader and, consequently, your employees’ will to follow you in any way. This situation can be temporary or permanent. Therefore, act thoughtfully, sustainably, but above all decisively when positioning yourself in terms of ethics, morals and values.

More on dealing with statements and their relevance
concerning (business) decisions in this
week’s podcast: Apple Podcast / Spotify.

Do you care about excellent leadership handling in those moments of crisis?
Let’s talk:



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Niels Brabandt

Niels Brabandt


Niels Brabandt is in business since 1998. Helping managers to become better leaders by mastering the concept of Sustainable Leadership. Based in Spain & London.