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The Overwhelmed Manager - Tip 19


The standard you walk past is the standard you accept


I love this saying. It was coined by Lieutenant General David Morrison of the Australian Army during a speech for International Women’s Day in 2013. He was referring to how women were being treated in the army at that time. The phrase though goes far beyond this narrow, yet essential parameter.


How often do we notice something wrong and simply walk past it?


A piece of litter on the floor

The behaviour of a colleague

An overheard conversation

Something in the wrong place


By walking past without acknowledging or dealing with it, we become part of the problem. The message we are telling ourselves, and others, sometimes unconsciously and sometimes overtly is:


I accept this behaviour or condition.


It becomes intrinsic, and before long standards are slipping, personal, professional and environmental.


Yet we lead busy working lives. How is it possible to correct everything?


YOU can’t, but your team can. It is a cultural response.


When ‘The standard you walk past is the standard you accept’ becomes part of your vision, and the staff start to buy into it, then change can really happen quickly.


This is not just about challenging yourself. If you see a member of staff walk past something that is not right without doing anything about it, then this should be addressed there and then. If you don’t then you are part of the problem.


A quiet life is the easy option. It is lazy and ultimately unsatisfying.


See it. Challenge it. Change it.


Especially the small things. These are easy to start with and yet have a big impact. You start to notice that if you start challenging these small things, many of the larger things will start to correct themselves.

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