We all tend to worry about what other people think of us, especially with those people that are “above” us in an organization chart.  Fortunately or unfortunately, we are wired to perceive whether we are accepted or rejected in the social system.  How do leaders overcome this innate thought process of humans to actually promote honesty and contrasting points of view that will actually solve problems versus nice relationships that resolve nothing.

Building a broad sense of belonging and contributing is hard to develop and very easy to destroy.  In his book, The No Asshole Rule, Robert Sutton dives into this quite a bit.  In summary: fire every asshole, no matter how talented or productive.  The negative impact from having one asshole in the group dramatically overshadows any productive value they might bring.  They simply shut other people down.  After all, “Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a good carpenter to build one.” — Sam Rayburn —

The key is to be the carpenter that builds a “supportive” culture where all people express ideas and each is authentically heard, they are related with as an individual, and they see that they are an important part of the relationship and connections that make the organization work.  The culture will thrive if you are a good carpenter.


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