An Email Exchange about Leadership

Last night I received this email. You’ll see my response below. I’d welcome comments.

I suppose that what I’m about to ask you for is not your main area of expertise, but I’m going to ask anyway (as a starting point, if nothing else).

Lately, I have been through much searching for answers regarding my life and work. Ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that the best first step for me to take would be finding the right company to work for.

Toward that goal, I wonder if you can direct me to resources, ways, places or people who know more about companies’ cultures than just what they tell prospective investors? As a pointer, let me say that I currently work for a company whose ownership and management is arrogant, greedy, selfish, malicious, culturally limited, closed-minded, and would rather employ and promote their cronies who do barely-passable work than someone outside of their small circle who does excellent work. How does one go about discovering whether or not a company’s executives have these flaws before becoming employed by them? After all, it isn’t possible to poll a representative sample of the employees of every company that I might seek work with.

If you have any ideas, or know someone who does, I’d be very appreciative to hear them.

My reply:

Thanks for your articulate query. I think about this a lot because I hear the same complaint from so many of my clients. It’s discouraging to hear that so many leaders of organizations are failing so many people. I think it is possible to research the people for whom you will work; and you can pick up a lot of information from what you sense — if you tune into your reactions — when you even step into an office, let alone meet with someone.

There are also tools online that help — like and — can give you inside info on organizations. Smaller businesses can be harder to research, but with so much transparency out there you can find out a lot before committing to a company. Still, disappointments happen. Keeping your network alive is always important so that when you see things or people that go against your integrity you can start to work your alternatives.

I think the best defense is a strong offense. Spend a great deal of time looking for and at companies or organizations that are led by people you believe in. Do your research and then target those companies. And then become a great leader who can help create a great environment for others.