Seeing something and not saying something is condoning that behavior.
I learned a great deal from the CEO for whom I worked for many years. If she walked into the lobby and it wasn’t impeccably clean, she would immediately move people to clean it up and improve the appearance. It mattered how we appeared to the outside world, and it made a statement about who we are.
If a client had an issue that required a call she would insist that the call be made immediately, and the issue resolved as quickly as possible. This set a standard for how things were done. It became part of the culture. If there was a problem, we addressed it.
You can take a long time to recognize that, as a leader, when you see something that isn’t right, allowing it to continue without saying something is condoning that behavior. This is true even when you don’t condone the behavior and you want it to be otherwise. In this case, silence is consent.
You may want to believe that there is only so much bandwidth for correcting everything you see that’s not being done to the standard you set. You may want to believe that you need to keep some powder dry for the bigger issues. But this is more of a broken-windows sort of issue. By setting the standard on small things, you make it easier to set the standard on big things. There is no reason to keep your powder dry, and by refusing to consent to letting the small things go, you are raising the standard and making it easier not to let the big things go.
As the leader you set the pace. You set the standard. You get to decide who you and your team are, what you stand for, and what you won’t stand for. If you don’t want to stand for a low standard, you cannot allow your silence to be consent. You cannot ignore an issue and allow people to believe you condone the behavior.
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