The classic example is the ‘No @$$holes Rule.’ Every industry is guilty of turning a blind eye to the behavior of a jerk if they are super-productive. Businesses are willing to sacrifice morale for profit. But eventually, the erosion of culture makes this decision self-destructive. Word on the street is powerful and once it becomes public knowledge that ‘@$$holes’ are tolerated, both recruitment and retention suffer. We choose to enable toxic conduct by deciding which personality and character shapes our team.
Choose first and decide second. Select the character of your culture with philosophical intention. That is your team’s aspiration. Aspirations are realized by a consistent succession of decisions. If transparency is your aspiration, you have a decision to make about talking points when faced with communicating a controversial message. If inclusiveness is your goal, you must decide who gets a voice and who doesn’t. If your culture values innovation, decisiveness about contributions to team trust will shape the foundation supporting creativity.
In the end, the credibility of any choice will be strengthened or weakened by the actions that follow your decisions. Behavior speaks louder than the words of the mission statement framed on the conference room wall. Each day arrives with a new opportunity to show your teammates – and the wider world – how well your words and behavior match.