Rick Maurer, author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance and other books on leadership and change, developed the Energy Bar™ as a free tool to help people in organizations get their ideas across in ways that get people committed and engaged. RickRick has advised leaders from many countries on ways to apply this new tool successfully.


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What Leaders Can Learn From The Volkswagen Scandal

My good friend, Jo, has driven Volkswagens for as long as I can remember. She is considering buying a new car. Although she loves the last VW she purchased, she won’t even consider one of their cars this time.

By way of background this article shares how recently the Environmental Protection Agency found that VW cars being sold in America had software in diesel engines that could detect emissions testing, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. Volkswagen initially denied the claim.

My hunch is Jo might be one of many who is abandoning the brand. I think we all know that losing a loyal customer is a bad thing. According to The New York Times, in a Harris Poll of attitudes toward the 100 most visible brands, VW ranked 100th!

What can we learn from Volkswagen's recent problems?

One big thing.

Tell the truth. (Didn’t your mom and dad tell you that?) Telling the truth should not be all that hard. Jo told me that she heard VW’s CEO say on NPR (National Public Radio) that “We didn’t lie.” And that was it. According to the Times, there was an outcry, and VW backed off its original statement.

Of course it isn’t as simple as just telling the truth, but if you don’t start there, then other tactics begin to feel downright Machiavellian.

Let me link this to The Energy Bar.

Jo was a loyal customer, so her level of support was extremely high. VW’s handling of the emission control crisis got her paying attention to what they were saying and doing. When she heard the CEO say that they didn’t lie, her energy shifted into strong resistance.

The resistance probably grows out of a lack of trust as opposed to some technical problems. I think most of us understand that mistakes do happen. But when companies, government agencies, presidential candidates, or churches lie, then efforts to move energy over to the positive side gets very hard.

Nevertheless, I believe that’s where Volkswagen needs to focus. It needs to demonstrate that it is worthy of Jo’s trust. And then keep demonstrating it. Once trust is lost, it is extremely hard to rebuild.

Can I urge you to join me in The Energy Bar Group? It's a great place to learn from each other.