Be intolerant to improve your culture

By: Kris Boesch Friday May 8, 2015 0 comments Tags: Kris Boesch


Often, my Culture Audit clients and participants in our Leadership Development Program & Management Training will hear me talk about “being a stand.” 


Meaning – What are you a stand for? What are you committed to? When you say integrity, respect and innovation are your values, how would I know?

Well, the other side is knowing what you’re a stand against.

What is unacceptable in your organization? What is intolerable? What will you simply not allow?

Too often I have seen leaders fear of conflict and “unkind niceness” lead to allowing horrors to exist within their organizations.

Horrors can look like:

  • Verbal abuse of one employee to another
  • Intimidation by a manager or co-worker
  • Continued disregard and disrespect for procedures
  • Territorialism and lack of willingness to collaborate with the team
  • Credit stealers
  • Throwing people under the bus
  • Passive aggressive comments in meetings
  • Consistent lack of follow through on commitments

And know that intolerance does not require pounding your fist on the table (to be used twice in a lifetime.) In fact, it is the quiet, clear, grounded eye-to-eye intolerance that will speak volumes. 

Imagine if someone on your leadership team makes an insensitive comment. Stop the conversation. Pause. Look them in the eye with compassion and conviction, and then say, “Mary, I know in the past when you’ve said things like what you’ve just said I’ve given passive permission by grimacing and chuckling, and this is my fault because the truth of the matter is it makes me uncomfortable. And at the end of day I’m not okay with this type of language being used in our organization. We say we value respect and it’s just not in alignment with who we say we are.” 

As a leader, horrors exist because you’ve let them exist (or you’ve inherited them.) There’s been an unsaid permission that has allowed people to perpetuate these behaviors.  And anyone who has led an organization has had to face this – you’re not alone. And yet, I wish you were. 

So go forth, be a stand. Be a stand for who you know yourself to be. And then be a stand for who you know your organization to be. And then be a stand for all the individuals who make up this conscious community you lead.

And be intolerant.

Kris Boesch

About the Author: Kris Boesch

Kris Boesch is CEO and founder of Choose People, a company that transforms company cultures, increases employee happiness and boosts the bottom-line. The Choose People 360° Culture Audit is based on over 1,000 hours of research Boesch conducted with a team of doctoral students in the Industrial Organizational Psychology Department at Colorado State University.  Prior to Choose People, Boesch was the CEO of Exodus Moving & Storage.  Under her leadership, Exodus became the largest mover in Northern Colorado with a turnover rate nearly 40% less than the industry average and a bottom line twice that same average.