In Action, Change, Leaders

“Take action.  Success is not guaranteed, but inaction will guarantee failure.” – Ken Poirot

I’m fortunate enough in my career to spend a lot of time with people who lead successful organizations.  Those organizations provide a wide array of products and services, come in all shapes and sizes, and are structured in a variety of ways.  They are driven by any number of ideas and goals, and each of them has a unique definition of success.

That said, in many ways, they’re all alike.  They all provide some kind of product and service to some kind of customer.  They have competition that provides the same kind of product or service to the same customers.  They have employees, they have vendors, and there are rules and regulations they have to follow.  And, in the end, they’re trying to be profitable.  For all their uniqueness, they have a lot in common.

One of the things those successful organizations have in common is that they don’t tolerate culture problems.  If there is someone in the organization who is acting in a way that’s detrimental to the group, that person either gets it together or they’re gone.  Great organizations – and great leaders – will not put up with people who are dragging everybody down.

Unfortunately, there are too many organizations that tolerate too many things.  They complain about behaviors, but then do nothing.  An employee does something that’s absolutely unacceptable, and the leadership team spends hours discussing it, and then a few years later you look around and that person’s still there, doing that same stuff.

Why?  Why do they put up with it?  For the same reason we all fail to do things we ought to do – fear.  They’re afraid if they terminate someone they’ll get sued, or they think they’re low on people already and they can’t afford to decrease capacity even more, or they think the rest of the team will be really upset, or whatever.  Mostly those reasons aren’t real (the rest of the team will probably be thrilled, for example), but the fear builds a wall they can’t get through.

Think about the organization you lead.  Think about what you want the culture of that organization to look like.  Are you tolerating behaviors that are damaging that culture?  Are you allowing people to say and do things that damage that culture?  Why are you letting that happen?

Don’t be afraid to stand your ground on culture.  Don’t be afraid of the things that will happen if you deal with culture wreckers.  The things that will happen if you don’t deal with it will be far worse.

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