Take the VP of Marketing at a large consumer products company, who discovered that one of his sales reps was unable to close a sale with a large national account. The VP had made many presentations to that same account in the past, and so on his own initiative he called and set up a meeting there. Then he phoned the sales rep with instructions to meet him at the account’s office the next day.
One result of VP’s initiative was that they made the sale. Another, unintended result was that the sales rep was deeply humiliated.
Feeling he had been made to look foolish and incompetent in front of his client, the rep protested, and his two bosses-the regional and the national sales managers-fired off irate memos to the VP, claiming he had stepped out of bounds in going over their heads and humiliating their staffer.
But the warning had no effect. The same pattern continued for two years, with the VP acting high-handedly with other sales reps, until the president of the company, worried about a slump in sales, blamed it on VP’s demoralization of the sales force. The net result -President gave VP a choice- leave the company or step down to take a regional sales job.