‘The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept’ – Chief of the Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison
Nobody else is going to fix a hard or complex issue for you. There’s no natural or historical progression to solve the hard problems. Inaction of itself can be a barrier to others acting because as leader it signals acceptance. If you don’t like something, take action today. Otherwise you might just end up owning it.
The quote above is simple. At first flush, it seems intuitive enough. The actions of leaders are watched to set the standard of what is expected in the organisation. Culture is an expectation of how interactions will occur in a community. If the leaders see things and don’t act, then they must be OK.
What creeps up on you when you live with that quote for a while is that it sets an exacting standard. Everything you walk past, you accept and you endorse to others. Each moment of inaction is not just allowing something to continue, it could be helping foster it further by encouraging others that it is acceptable. This standard leaves no exceptions for:
- the leader’s busy day
- the importance of other priorities
- the smallness of the issue
- the obviousness of the leaders disapproval
- the timing not being quite right to act
- the discomfort or embarrassment of the leader or the other; or
- the relationship of the two people involved.
Excuses to defer action are plentiful. This standard brooks no excuses. It demands action now.
Leaders take their communities on a journey to a better place. They do so by influencing new behaviours and actions on matters large and small. The best leaders tackle challenges in the moment and continuously influence their community for the better.
Next time you are walking by, stop and reflect on what you are owning.