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Organisational culture: specifying minimums, modelling maximums

A while ago a friend helpfully pointed out to me that laws and rules can only ever specify the minimum behaviour acceptable in a given context. The law is (we hope) the floor, beyond which things are not allowed to go.

But you can’t legislate good behaviour – all the things that make a culture rich and life-giving. That comes from being better than the law, going above and beyond it.

Good behaviour and professionalism are established in the culture when they’re modelled by those who take responsibility for leading and caring for others.

In other words, you’d have to be very lucky to to end up with an organisation with a better culture – better values-in-action – than what you consistently model. Your own behaviour is likely to be as good as it gets. As the saying goes (well, as my saying goes) “The tone will lower itself.”

Gravity works, so aim high, and hire well.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...