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Leaders beware: Organizational Leperosy

Leprosy is a nervous system disorder in which the brain stops receiving feeling from the extremities. People who get leprocy seem fine at first, but then something small will go wrong, they’ll twist their ankle—but the brain won’t get the message. They’ll keep walking on that twisted ankle often breaking bones, and even getting serious infections. Without proper care lepers will loose limbs and become totally immobile.

Organizations in which the head leadership doesn’t feel the pain from the extremities are on the path to organizational leperosy.

Pain versus Injury

Sometimes our bodies require that we push through pain for a reward. Lifting weights is an example of pushing through the pain and it being healthy. Good leaders must push their organizations to make it through pain to accomplish the goal.

At the same time leaders who allow their organizations to constantly endure pain or force past the threshold of injury do great long term harm. It takes a lot longer to heal from injury than it does to wisely assess pain and make decisions accordingly.

Don’t shelter the pain

You know an organization is suffering from leprosy as soon as their becomes a culture of “good news only”. This is when you hear people say things like “don’t bring me bad news without a solution” or “Stop bringing me bad news”.

More thoughts on Organizational Communication?

I’ve seen this quite a bit—it can happen to anyone who isn’t looking out for it. I’d love to hear your take on it and ways you’ve seen it addressed, or how you’ve dealt with it. Please feel free to discuss.


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