Apple Has a "Bad Spot" That Damaged Trust

Apple Has a "Bad Spot" That Damaged Trust 150 150 Wally Hauck, PhD, CSP

We in the USA are so fortunate when we grocery shop. Our grocery stores have excellent quality and amazing selection.  Thank you “capitalism”.  Choice and a combination of competition and cooperation (capitalism) have provided this.  So, when we choose fruit, we can afford to be picky. If we want apples, we can afford to choose only “perfect” apples.  There is no reason to choose an apple with a bad spot, correct?

Apple just created their own bad spot and it caused me to pause and ask if perhaps I should pick a different “apple”.  They purposely slowed the iPhone processing on the older phones.  That decision alone is not the reason for my concern.  I am concerned because they didn’t communicate.  They didn’t ask.  They just did it and they damaged my trust in them.  I saw a bad spot.

Apple management claimed the positive intentions of saving battery life and avoiding unwanted sudden shut downs.  Class action suits were filed, and Apple management was forced to apologize. Some customers believed Apple intentions were not so positive.  These customers are upset because they believe the slowdown was timed immediately after a new product release to encourage upgrades.

There is no doubt the iPhone is an impressive product with very high standards and very high quality.  But, high quality and innovative technology does not cause people to disregard disrespectful communication or a lack of timely communication.  Apple’s lack of communication about this change was part of the reason their customers interpreted these decisions as manipulative in nature.

For us leaders, this is a great lesson.  There are basic leadership qualities people expect in all interactions. They expect to be treated like adults.  They expect to be treated with respect and integrity.  Customers are unwilling to compromise these.  They are especially less likely to forgive and forget when they are missing at the same time.

What could Apple have done?  Perhaps communicate respectfully before acting?  Even better, perhaps provide the opportunity for feedback, e.g. allow customers to take a survey or provide their opinions about viable solutions for the older batteries degrading? It doesn’t matter how great a product or service is.  If the company treats customers with disrespect and/or breaks in promises, loyalty will be damaged.

We can extrapolate this to employees.  No matter how brilliant an individual leader is, if he/she can’t treat constituents with respect and integrity, their willingness to trust that leader will be damaged.  Their willingness to follow the leader will suffer in ways that cannot be measured.

The actions by Apple management show a weakness in emotional intelligence skills. Technical skills are important, and Apple has an abundance.  But if they can’t predict how their customers will feel when they make major decisions, those technical skills will not save them from the damage to loyalty.

When shopping for apples, there is no reason to choose the one with the bad spot.

Check out the interview on C-Suite Best Seller TV to learn more about how to stop leadership malpractice and replace the typical performance review:


Wally Hauck, PhD has a cure for the “deadly disease” known as the typical performance appraisal.  Wally holds a doctorate in organizational leadership from Warren National University, a Master of Business Administration in finance from Iona College, and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania.   Wally is a Certified Speaking Professional or CSP.  Wally has a passion for helping leaders let go of the old and embrace new thinking to improve leadership skills, employee engagement, and performance.

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