Caring For a Positive Culture

By Linda Fisher Thornton

I have written a lot about ethical culture building, but there is one simple concept that is a game changer that many leaders overlook. It is the importance of simultaneously managing two things well in order to shore up both sides of the system.

Require Positive Interpersonal Behavior

Set clear expectations for employee behavior that includes respecting others and differences. Make it clear that it is expected of everyone, at all levels of the organization. Give examples so people know what it looks like (and doesn’t look like).

Remediate/Remove Negative Interpersonal Behavior

When you learn of even one negative interpersonal interaction, jump in to coach the employee(s) involved to teach them how to use the expected interpersonal behaviors. Apply this equally from the bottom of the organization to the top.

The Power of Consistency

If you only set clear expectations, but don’t fix negative behavior when it happens, you have sent the message “we didn’t mean it.” If you only address negative behavior without giving clear expectations and guidance for how to meet them, you are saying “I’m ready to catch you doing something wrong.” Both of these messages will move you away from a positive ethical culture. It’s only when we pair the two that we send a clear, accountable message that is likely to be followed and repeated throughout the organization.

Unleash the Positive Power of Ethical Leadership  

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