In a Nutshell: YSC Consulting CEO Eric Pliner doesn’t mince words. He said, “There is absolutely no such thing as apolitical leadership. That naive fantasy is from a different era that doesn’t exist anymore.” The fact is, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. That’s the catch-22 facing CEOs in today’s hyperconnected world.

The 24/7 news cycle, culture wars, and the depth of partisan divisions seem to create a new crisis every week that your stakeholders and shareholders expect the CEO to respond to. CEOs must accept that when it comes to difficult decisions, no matter what decisions they make, they’re going to upset somebody.

In today’s conversation, we discuss the framework Eric uses to counsel some of the world’s leading CEOs on how to make difficult decisions that may make you a hero in your narrative and a villain in others’.

Guest: Eric Pliner, the CEO of YSC consulting, a global leadership strategy firm. Eric is also the author of a timely new book called Difficult Decisions: How Leaders Make the Right Call with Insight, Integrity, and Empathy.


My Key Takeaways:

  1. Neutrality is not a strategy. Companies and their leaders need to address the things that matter the most to an increasingly diverse group of stakeholders — especially customers and employees.
  2. What’s good for me isn’t always good for you. Try to game out all potential consequences before arriving at final decisions.
  3. Teamwork is a system. At great companies, top performers create a dynamic interpersonal network that drives culture, growth, and better decisions.

Also Learn:

  1. Eric’s framework for using morals, ethics, and role responsibilities as a lens to guide your decisions.
  2. How transparency can help build consensus within an organization.
  3. Why “do the right thing” doesn’t cut it when it comes to guiding difficult decisions.
  4. Using “skilled subjectivity” versus objectivity.
  5. Why firing the “brilliant jerk” who is a top performer but creates chaos should not be your first impulse. “Don’t change the player, change the game.”
  6. The principles Eric used to help former Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly clarify executive-level decisions and responsibilities at Best Buy.
  7. Eric’s thoughts on the difficult decisions surrounding Disney/Governor DeSantis, Spotify/Joe Rogan, and Twitter Board/Elon Musk.

Complementary podcast: I talked to behavioral scientist Jon Levy about how leaders can build influence in a decentralized world. Listen/read here.

Resources Featured In This Episode

Eric Pliner on LinkedIn

Eric Pliner on Twitter

YSC Consulting

The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism by Hubert Joly