Despite the seemingly sophisticated path of our evolution as a modern civilization, there still exist men and women in the workplace who have either ignored, forgotten or altogether failed to learn how to treat one another.
Recent revelations of abuse and misconduct among the Hollywood culture and other high-profile sectors of our society have given all of us somewhat of a wake-up call. Outside of the cases of abuse that call for serious action, we're also being forced to examine how we treat one another in the workplace. We need to ask ourselves if we have behaved in ways that reflect how we ultimately want to be remembered.
Business leadership demands of us not only the acquisition and application of skills and good decision-making that allow us to keep our businesses running, but to set the tone in the workplace for how we treat each other and all those we interact with, including customers, prospects or vendors. How do we want to be remembered?
One yardstick that measures proper interaction is this: if you wouldn’t say it or do it in front of your wife, husband or grandmother, don’t say it and don’t do it. Obviously, that doesn’t apply in all business interactions, but for most of us, it’s actually a pretty good habit to get into when you find yourself in a situation where someone is beginning to inch over that fine line between good, healthy and productive interaction and, well, anything less than that.
We often find ourselves in situations where others set the tone. It is in such situations that true leadership is needed. Don’t be afraid to change the narrative—not by declaring your righteous indignation at their boorish behavior or fraternity house manners, but with subtle grace and civility. You’ll be remembered as the one who turned around what could have been a disastrous exchange without being labeled as the one who can’t take a joke.
It’s important to set the same tone among your employees. Your leadership within the rank and file demands that you lead by example. If your employees are paying attention, they will reflect the tone you set during your interactions. It’s possible to achieve this while still honoring their individuality and the diversity they bring to work.
By exhibiting integrity, compassion and morality—along with plenty of good-natured and easy friendliness—you’ll avoid a whole host of problems that could swiftly and decisively ruin what you have worked so hard to achieve. It’s up to you to set the right tone.