No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Thursday, March 31, 2016


I’m not a fan of the word tolerance, at least as it’s used socially and politically. When most people say that word, they want their thing tolerated but reserve the right not to tolerate an opposing viewpoint. But when you’re building a team, tolerance is not on a virtue, it’s a requirement.

As a leader, you need to tolerate almost any differences. Most of them don’t have any impact on the work or the team, so the workplace needs to be indifference to creed or lifestyle. Only what impacts other team members is in bounds for you to address.

But you also need to tolerate failure. Why? Because no one learns without it. A person who never fails is someone who never tries anything new. And because failure shows you where the weak places are in your processes. And also because if you don’t, people will stop confessing failure and you’ll never know why something went wrong.

Intolerance toward failure, often seen in the pursuit of so-called “zero-defect environments,” will, in my opinion, actually increase the frequency of failures. That happens because you don’t have a safe environment for people to explore what went wrong and how to get better. 

Being tolerant in general will let you focus your coaching on things that really matter, things that make people better. And your team will work better too.

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