Turbo Leadership Systems

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Issue 86 To our clients and friends July 24, 2006
Joke? Bad Taste? Harassment?
Larry W. Dennis, Sr.
Turbo Leadership

Energize your team with high ideals!

I took a short break between the sessions I was conducting for the officers and senior management team members of a regional bank. As I started to walk by the desk of the senior vice president, he handed me a two page email and said, “Read this from here down.” I started reading. At first it seemed to be a pretty serious piece with some leadership directives. When I turned to the second page, I was embarrassed as I found myself reading an off-color “joke”. It couldn’t be reproduced here without embarrassing you. This joke, which certainly could be offensive to many, was thought to be funny by him. I was more embarrassed for him than me. What is he trying to do? I thought, “How could he do this? What is he thinking? Does he really think this is funny? What have I done for him to single me out? Does he show this “joke” to all new suppliers, customers, acquaintances?” If he does, I can assure you that he has placed his bank in jeopardy of serious violations of sexual harassment laws.

If you haven’t developed a set of core values, beliefs, and guiding principals for your organization, you run the risk of people either being too cautious or not taking the risks that are necessary for the innovations required to remain competitive. Your people will play over the line in ways that to them may seem humorous and in perfectly good taste, but are not in

alignment with the values and standards you believe are important. Their behavior may put you at risk with other employees, customers and suppliers.

It is essential that your organization have clearly articulated core values and beliefs to guide your teams’ actions, otherwise no one knows the context for decisions and may, or should I say will, wonder about the direction of your organization. Without articulated, agreed to values, your team members won’t take the courageous stand required for superior customer service. This leads to everyone walking away or at best, having a lukewarm attitude toward your company.

We now realize, if it wasn’t clear from the beginning, that the reason Enron drifted so far off course was a cultural issue; a culture of expendency, deceit, and dishonesty. You may lose some team members when you express your list of lived-to core beliefs. Your team will have the benefit of knowing what you stand for, what you believe in. Your team will know that they can count on you to consistently support them when they, to the best of their ability, strive to live up to these high ideals. This creates buy-in and belief in your culture. When team members know what you stand for, it will give them a reason for belonging beyond networking and a paycheck, and ultimately more purpose in their job.


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