Benedict Arnold: Bad Employee of the Week

baBitter after being passed over for various promotions and drowning in debt, this American general plotted to surrender the strategically significant West Point Fort for £20,000 pounds to the British Army during the American Revolutionary War. Employed by George Washington to lead, guide, and protect West Point and its men, instead, a resentful Arnold sought to sell the fort’s surrender and his allegiance to the competition. When his plot was intercepted, Arnold defected to become a Brigadier General for the British, betraying his American colleagues and his country.

Since then, notorious in every American elementary school, his name has become an epithet for betrayal and treason. Benjamin Franklin famously once wrote “Judas sold only one man, Arnold three million.” Numerous books have been published, movies produced, and even songs written about the treachery of Benedict Arnold.

But, did you know he was considered by historians as a hero at the beginning of his career? Ultimately, Arnold’s deteriorating morale led to his disillusionment and his downfall. As a general of the American army, his actions against his colleagues have gone down in the pages of history, making him this week’s bad employee.

So, maybe you’re not tasked with keeping Coca Cola’s top secret recipe – or even state secrets – under lock and key. You still have to trust your employees with information, projects, your customers, and your business every day. Develop and keep their loyalty by building a company and a team they can trust. Be a leader they can follow. Start by listening to their concerns. And, honestly discuss issues when they arise to keep the lines of communication open. Invest in your employees and create an environment for growth by offering training opportunities and trusting your employees with new projects. The more involved your team is, the more committed they will be to the success of the company.

If an employee does betray your trust, learn from it. Examine what you could have done differently. But, don’t allow the experience to turn the trust you have in your team to skepticism. After all, even George Washington, a great leader who could not tell a lie, lost a few battles in loyalty.

Have you ever had a bad employee you couldn’t trust? Share your bad employee stories at Learn more information about 100 Worst Employees and the Refresh Leadership Bad Employee of the Week.

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