Don’t Strike Out When It Comes To Accountability

by | Apr 26, 2024

Well folks, spring has officially sprung and while I’m focusing on the warmer weather and the flowers blooming, Major League Baseball is catching my attention and not for good reason.  

On Monday, just 5 pitches into the A’s – Yankees game, the Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone found himself abruptly ejected by umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. A player for the A’s, was hit by a pitch, sending him to first base. Boone and the Yankee dugout protested, believing the player had swung (which would result in just a strike). Wendelstedt’s response was swift and severe. “You’re not yelling at me,” he retorted, “I did what I was supposed to do and checked. I’m looking for him to get hit by the pitch. You got anything else to say, you’re gone.” 

Moments later, a fan’s shout from above the dugout led Wendelstedt to mistakenly eject Boone, thinking the shout had come from him. Despite Boone’s protests and clarification that it wasn’t him, Wendelstedt dismissed him with, “You’re done! I don’t care who said it. You’re gone!” His justification post-game? He claimed to hear something from the far end of the dugout, insisting it wasn’t the fan and, as Boone was the team’s manager, he had to go, even though this entire situation was clearly caught on camera. Since then, the outcry over this “lack of accountability” has been deafening. 

The ejection of Aaron Boone underscores not just a game gone wrong, but a systemic issue within culture today: the severe lack of accountability that plagues both the diamond and the boardroom. Wendelstedt’s decision and his stubbornness in the face of a clear mistake highlight a disturbing trend in power dynamics, where leaders refuse to back down or admit fault, due to a bloated sense of infallibility. 

The need for umpires and other authority figures to wield their power unchallenged, to never concede a mistake, distorts the spirit of the game. It’s not just about calls on the field, this attitude can shift the outcome of entire seasons and careers, breeding resentment and distrust among players and fans alike. 

The parallels between this MLB debacle and typical corporate environments are striking. In many businesses, a similar resistance to accountability can lead to catastrophic decisions and toxic workplace cultures. The higher-ups often shield themselves from repercussions, cloaking their actions in the guise of authority and rightness, much like an umpire who won’t reverse a bad call. 

Leaders across all industries could take a lesson from these mishandled moments by embracing transparency and humility. I’ve said it before, Accountability isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a critical pillar of trust and integrity, essential for the credibility of any institution. Without it, leaders risk the very foundations of trust upon which their organizations are built. 

The refusal to address and rectify mistakes, to instead wrap oneself in the cloak of untouchability, is arrogant and archaic. It’s time for a cultural overhaul, both in Major League Baseball and beyond. We need to dismantle the fortress of untouchable authority, to stop confusing stubbornness with strength. Accountability must be more than theoretical, it needs to be actionable, with real consequences and visible adjustments in response to feedback. 

Aaron Boone’s ejection isn’t just another sports story; it’s a narrative about the pervasive lack of accountability in positions of power today. It’s a vivid illustration that, without a commitment to fairness and responsibility, both the sports we love and the jobs we commit to could become arenas not of talent and hard work, but of tyranny and injustice. For those ready to champion a new leaf, it’s time to step up to the plate and swing for the fences. That’s the first step to integrating respect and integrity into your organization.  

Elsewhere In Culture 

I was so excited to be interviewed on Fox 5 this week, where I had the opportunity to discuss the transformative role of artificial intelligence (AI) in the workplace without the fear of it replacing human intelligence. In the segment, I emphasized that AI, while powerful enough to automate tasks, cannot replicate the human intelligence essential for fostering workplace culture and emotional connections among colleagues. These aspects, from empathy to cultural engagement, form the bedrock of why we work and cannot be synthesized by algorithms. My discussion aimed to reassure viewers that AI’s role in the workplace is to augment and enhance human effort, not to supplant the unique human capabilities that drive organizational culture and leadership. 

The conversation also explored historical transitions, like the industrial revolution, to illustrate that technological advances can shift the landscape of employment without eliminating jobs entirely. I highlighted the current skills gap in sectors like manufacturing, where jobs go unfilled, not due to a lack of positions, but because of a shortage in necessary skills among workers. This parallel serves as a crucial lesson for today’s workforce: embracing AI with a proactive approach towards continuous learning and adaptability is key. By preparing leaders and employees to integrate AI into their work intelligently, we ensure that the evolution in job roles contributes positively to both individual careers and organizational goals, fostering a culture of innovation and resilience against the backdrop of AI integration. 

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek surprised by how much laying off 1,500 employees negatively affected the streaming giant’s operations

In a bold move reflective of the harsh realities of today’s corporate strategies, Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek recently shared insights into the aftermath of the company’s decision to lay off 1,500 employees—17% of its workforce. Ek candidly admitted that these cuts, while aligned with Spotify’s long-term strategic goals to streamline operations and reduce costs, rattled the company’s day-to-day operations more than expected. This frank admission sheds light on the delicate balance between financial health and operational stability, highlighting a scenario all too familiar in the tech industry. As a thought leader in workplace culture, this underscores the critical importance of not just strategic decision-making but also the cultural repercussions that can echo throughout an organization. Leaders are tasked not only with steering the ship but also with maintaining the crew’s morale and cohesion in the face of unsettling changes. 

Ek’s acknowledgment that finding stability post-layoffs was a “significant challenge” speaks volumes about the cultural shock waves such actions can send across an enterprise. The immediate disruption to Spotify’s rhythm underscores a broader cultural issue within corporations: the need for a resilient culture that can absorb and adapt to such shocks. This situation serves as a potent reminder to C-suite leaders that while layoffs might be part of strategic navigation, the true test of leadership lies in transparently managing the aftermath—mitigating impacts on morale, fostering communication, and rebuilding a culture of trust. For companies navigating similar turbulent waters, the lesson is clear: cutting costs might balance the books, but nurturing a culture that can weather the storm will define the true resilience and future success of an organization. 


If you want people to genuinely care, you need to change their beliefs, not only their actions.

I’ve been approached by countless CEOs and leaders, all expressing a shared frustration: despite reminding, urging, and implementing perks and benefits, they face a stark lack of genuine engagement.

This is precisely what we refer to as the “Action Trap.” The Action Trap occurs when leaders find themselves in a continuous cycle of implementing new processes and systems (taking new actions) to change results, rather than addressing the underlying experiences that lead to those results. Our beliefs stem from our experiences.

So, if you want to instill a new belief, you need to create a new experience.

That’s the key to making people care.