I distinctly remember entering my daughter’s first grade classroom many years ago. Prominently displayed on posters around the room were “classroom rules.” When I inquired about their origin, the teacher informed me that on the first day of school she conducted a “class meeting.” The class was asked to decide what rules should apply given that they would be together for the next 180 days (since the median age of first grade students is six, I suspect there was some pretty strong guidance from the teacher!). Essentially, the teacher was asking the students a critical question that applies for any group that will be spending time together and working toward shared goals – “How should we behave?”
In The Advantage, author Patrick Lencioni lists the question “How should we behave?” as the second of his six “critical questions.” Like it or not, it is the job of the leaders of any organization to establish boundaries for human behavior. We all know that as human beings and as teams, we operate more effectively when our boundaries and rules of engagement are clear. In fact, when a group of people is able to agree upon mutually held standards of behavior, it draws them together in a way that almost nothing else can.
At North Group, one of our core values/standards of behavior is “modeling an others-centered focus.” One of my colleagues recently remarked that it would be extremely difficult to fully enjoy your employment and find success at our firm if you do not actively cultivate this “others-centered focus.” While we occasionally use this term in conversation, it is not entirely necessary. All of my colleagues are completely aware of this high standard of behavior. Further, we believe it is one of the very basics of our commonly held beliefs and holds a key to our “competitive advantage.”
The question “How should we behave?” is as important for adults as it is for first graders. How will you behave?