You never know where you’re going to get a leadership lesson from, and it’s not always from something good.

In this case, I got an interesting leadership lesson, or story, from a two part story on the Dr. Phil Show. And I didn’t get it from Dr. Phil. This particular story involved a large family that lived in a cult like atmosphere with a horrendous father who sexually and physically molested all of his children, including setting them all up against each other, from oldest to youngest, before someone finally was able to intervene and send him to jail for the rest of his life.

Of course, the family has struggled to maintain the semblance of being related to each other because it’s hard to suddenly have your life to yourself and really know what to do. However, there seems to be much animosity against the oldest sister, as she was the one the father used almost all the time to help him beat the other children. And she did it because she knew if she didn’t, she’d get it even worse. However, the rest of the family has difficulties seeing it that way, because since they’ve been out, the older sister has been the one who has remained closest to the teachings she was indoctrinated with, and, in the eyes of most of the sisters, is raising her own children in many of the same ways, without the beatings and molestation thank goodness.

As Dr. Phil was telling a couple of the sisters that they had no right to intervene in how their oldest sister raised his children in a legal fashion, as long as they weren’t being abused, one of the youngest sisters in the family asked if she could say something. When she had her chance, she said that maybe the oldest sister’s children were missing out on some of the joys that technology could bring to them in today’s world, when it came to family gatherings the oldest sister’s children were always the best behaved children at each function, and the only children who ever volunteered to help clean up afterwards, and actually did.

The lesson here is that even though someone might have what others consider as unorthodox ways of doing things, even if they’ve suffered trauma in their lives, that they just might find a way to instill something of value in others, whether it be their own kids or their own employees. Many people like to try to get away with something by saying “that’s how I was raised”, or “that’s what I was used to”. There’s never a true excuse for bad behavior, and there shouldn’t be a bad excuse for bad management. No one has had it as bad at this woman, yet she has found a way to make her children examples of what children who behave can be.

Think of how good employees could be if every manager took some time to think about their actions before doing something bad.