Life in the fast Lane-The “Pryce of fitting in is high” on Mad Men

Lane Pryce was basically a good guy.  On the show Mad Men Lane always played the pragmatic role and did what was necessary while others got the headlines, the glory, and typically the girls.  Lane originally came into the show a few seasons ago when the firm was taken over by a British agency, but he did a good job of setting the table so that Roger, Don and Bert could break away and form their own firm.  Always behind the scenes, Lane was trying to do the right thing to help others.

Mad Men Season 5 Jared Harris Lane Pryce

This season things took a turn in the wrong direction when Lane learned that he had a pretty big debt from back taxes and he ends up taking funds from the firm to make the payment.  In doing so he forges the name of Don Draper and, when Don finds out, Don asks for his resignation.  Lane ends up taking his own life by hanging himself in the office one evening.  A sad demise to a pretty decent guy.

There is much to learn from the character of Lane in your workplace.  Here are just a few thoughts:

  • Many of your employees are doing things to help others, but don’t get much credit for doing so
  • Some of your employees will do unusual things to “fit in” with others
  • Financial issues can cause many to make choices that would not normally be in their behavior
  • “Saving face” for some will push them to make poor choices, even hasty, rash decisions

I have worked in many types of workplaces in industries as diverse as manufacturing, professional services and non-profit and have seen many hard workers who keep their head down and do what is needed while others get the credit.  I could site examples in each industry, but will keep the names to myself to protect the guilty.  This happens, not much we can do about it.  If you are a leader, or manager in your company you need to make sure to recognize everyone who is making a difference to improve the firm.  Too often we recognize only the face, and not the many behind the face who are making things happen.  Lane will never be confused with Don Draper or Roger Sterling, but he did a lot of the grunt work to make Sterling Cooper successful.  Little good it did him in the long run.

Employees will run into snags in life that cause them to be confronted with choices that test their integrity.  It happens to all of us.  The true test of a person is seeing how they respond when they have the opportunity to make a choice that others may not immediately be aware of.  Lane did this by forging Don’s name on a check to get out of his tax debt.  The price of getting caught was his job and he could not deal with the visibility that would be given to this when he had been caught.  Rather than standing up to take responsibility, Lane took the path of lesser resistance and chose to take his own life.  This action left a huge voice in the minds of many except for the one person who knew of his lack of integrity, Don Draper.

Each of us has integrity tests, and some of these tests come on a regular basis.  We have to choose which path we will walk when we think no one is watching.  I have been encouraged, and also suggest to others, that every decision should be made in such a manner that you could announce it on the front page of a newspaper (not the best analogy, maybe a web page) or in front of your mother.  By taking this approach we each insert a level of accountability that didn’t appear to exist prior.

What are you doing to insert accountability into your life?

What actions have you taken to prove your integrity?

Life in the “fast Lane” can be dangerous.  Don’t pay the ultimate price.

It takes a lifetime to build credibility, but only a moment to lose it all.

Think about this with every choice and decision you make.