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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

To resign or not to resign

Points-of-view (POV) of a non-corporate person:

The CEO of MRT Corporation resigned after the fatal accident at one of its construction site. I noticed two reactions among friends:
1. Those who applaud the resignation as a sign of accountability a la Japanese leaders.
2. Those who criticised the resignation as an easy way out of a mess.

From my POV, the resignation is unavoidable as it is a sign of accountability. However, the timing of the resignation is also important. The following are my quick thoughts:

1. The incident at the construction site requires an extensive investigation. Many questions must be answered. Was it an "accident" after all measures and procedures are in place and followed? Was it the result of negligence at the construction site? Was it human error or machine failure? Was it a result of an embedded systemic failure? To me, if the incident occurred after all necessary systemic fail-safe measures are in place, then it was an accident that does not warrant the hasty resignation. However, if it was negligence or a result of systemic failure that is neglected, then the resignation is a sign of accountability.

2. Would it be fair to leave the "mess" to be cleaned up by someone else? At the very least, I believe that the person in charge should at least identify what went wrong before leaving, instead of leaving for the successor to identify the cause of the problem.

3. A good leader is measured not by the lack of problems, but how he/she handles the problems. In most situations, running away from problems does not make a person a good leader. Resigning is often perceived as running away. A resignation also does not restore confidence in the company, although it would pave the way for someone who could.

4. At the same time, it is imperative that the process of identifying the problem should not be done in a manner akin to sweeping the problem under the carpet. If this happens, then the problem would not be solved or resolved. The clean up process should present solutions, not be a way to hide the culprits, hence eroding the value of integrity and accountability.

5. Resignation should not be done in haste, nor should it be delayed if the person is indeed accountable. Timing is of the essence in determining when to leave. Leaving too soon, and people will see you as someone who runs away from a problem. Holding on for too long, and people will see you trying to stay in power and try to hide something.

Al-Fatihah to the three workers who lost their lives.


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