Sometimes drastic conditions call for drastic measures. At least that is what Michael Eggleton concluded upon his arrival as the new CEO of Eurasian Bank in Kazakhstan. (Nariman Gizitdinov and Jason Corcoran, “A Lie Detector Cleans Up a Kazakhstan Bank” Bloomberg Businessweek, 9/2/13–9/8/13, pp. 44–45):
“The bank, Kazakhstan’s 10th largest, was losing money, and Eggleton’s predecessor had been arrested on suspicion of embezzlement in connection with $1.1 billion in losses at Almaty-based Alliance Bank, which he led from 2002 to 2007. (He was later convicted.) Three other Kazakhstan lenders had just defaulted on a total of about $20 billion in debt.” (p. 44)
Although you can debate the reliability of lie detector test results, you cannot deny the seriousness with which Eggleton took his charge. This was definitely a case where the new CEO realized he needed to do some housecleaning and he was not about to do it timidly. His bravado may have paid off in many ways:
“More than 600 people left Eurasian Bank the first year the lie detector was in use, reducing the number of employees to 2,010.” (p. 44)
Interesting. Makes you wonder about those 600 ex-employees. Today, Eurasian Bank employment stands at 5,700.
Eggleton is not asking his employees to do anything he is not willing to do himself. He submits to the annual lie detector test. Employees can refuse to participate, but they disqualify themselves for promotions and bonuses. As Eggleton exclaims:
“‘I have a problem with someone who has failed the test or who won’t take it and is making decisions worth millions and millions of dollars.’” (p. 44)
Leadership is about integrity. Leadership means sometimes you have to make some novel, tough decisions for the good of your organization. Leadership means you see what needs to be done and you do it, regardless of the criticism. Leadership means you hold yourself to the same standard—if not a higher standard—to which you hold your team.