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Friday, July 7, 2023

Lean Quote: What You Permit, You Promote...

On Fridays I will post a Lean related Quote. Throughout our lifetimes many people touch our lives and leave us with words of wisdom. These can both be a source of new learning and also a point to pause and reflect upon lessons we have learned. Within Lean active learning is an important aspect on this journey because without learning we can not improve.

"What you permit, you promote.  What you allow, you encourage.  What you condone, you own.  What you tolerate, you deserve.  —  Michelle Malkin 

It's been said so many times in so many different ways that I can't really say who said it first.  While searching for the origin of this quote, I came across this version by former Fox News commentator Michelle Malkin once said (although many others have said it):

The leader establishes the expectations, and the organization follows. These expectations can be very permissive with no recognizable structure, or the expectations can be clear and reasonable. What the leader permits becomes the cultural norms of the organization. The leader must take a "no-compromise" position when actions violate values and standards.

A company’s core values are useless if leadership lacks the courage and support to enforce them.  For example:

The value is “integrity” but everyone knows he’s cheating on his wife

The value is “hard working” yet there’s still that one lazy person on the team

The value is “positivity” but the same person is always first to say why something can’t be done

The value is “teamwork” yet management tolerates one’s bad behavior on account of their high performance (it’s usually the top sales person)

Culture is all about a shared way of doing things, and when leaders don’t address those that aren’t on board, it sends the wrong message to everyone else. Their inaction undermines company values and communicates that values don’t really mean anything. These are the employees who have high jacked your culture, and you will never make progress until you remove these cancers and stand up for company values. Otherwise, your good employees are left to believe, “If that person can get away with it, why should any of the rest of us even try?”. The best ones just leave.

If you want to be successful in having a great culture, you have to set behavioral expectations that fit and apply them to everyone, relentlessly.  That means ridding your company of the people who fly in the face of your values, however difficult it may be.

Leaders create the culture, and the behaviors that they permit or allow are the ones that they encourage and promote.

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