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I recently attended the 2017 Global Leadership Summit where Bill Hybels led off with a discussion, and issued a challenge regarding one of the biggest problems facing America today – Disrespect and Divisiveness. We see it rear its ugly head every day in our institutions of business, politics, schools, churches and tragically played out in civil disobedience resulting in death. We as a society can easily point to many root causal reasons why: breakdown of the family, discrimination in its various forms, and lack of moral compass, to name a few. Whatever the cause, we as leaders own it.

This world is hungry for leadership that takes responsibility to effect change in our areas of influence. Bill’s research concluded that productivity is cut in half in cultures that exhibit this type of behavior, and 25% of the people take it out on their customers in various ways.  This hits home.  If we’re real, we’ve seen this take root all too often in organizations and its costing us good people and customers.

You may be thinking that disrespect and divisiveness isn’t an issue in your organization, and that may be true. Even so, I submit that one of the most subtle forms of disrespect and divisiveness happens in silence and behind the scenes through an unwillingness to have the tough conversations, or through positioning and political game-play. It is in this arena that we must challenge ourselves as leaders, recognizing that Tolerance is for Cowards. Changing a culture and creating an environment of respect, healthy conflict and civility pays huge dividends.

Challenge: Implement 10 rules for modeling respect:

Rule # 1. Leaders must set the example on how to differ with others without demonizing them.

Rule # 2. Leaders must set the example of how to have spirited conversations without drawing blood.

Rule # 3.  Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.

Rule # 4.  Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use incendiary or belittling words that guarantee to derail a discussion.

Rule # 5.  Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed to everyone at every level.

Rule # 6.  Leaders must never stereotype.

Rule # 7.  Leaders must apologize immediately when they are wrong, instead of denying or doubling down.

Rule # 8.  Leaders must form opinions carefully and stay open minded if better information comes along.

Rule # 9.  Leaders must set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and doing what they say they are going to do.

Rule # 10.  Leaders must set “Rules of Respect” for everyone in the organization and enforce them relentlessly.

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