I once worked with an elementary school principal had learned from credible sources that this long-term substitute was a fairly regular user of marijuana.
The principal pondered, “This isn’t a problem, is it? I mean, I haven’t really seen her smoke pot. She’s a great employee – she’s here on time every day, the students like her, and she’s doing a good job. I mean, there’s nothing I can do, right? I would be violating her employment rights if I told her she couldn’t work here any longer, right?”
Heavy sigh. Obviously, this school principal was trying to convince himself that he didn’t need to address the situation. (I mean, really . . . how many of us know someone who smokes a little weed from time to time.) I knew I had to offer this principal a quick lesson on the difference between his personal boundaries and those required of him as school principal.
When you accept a job in any organization, you are not paid simply to show up and be your sweet little ol’ self; rather, you are paid to step into a role that serves the organization. Moreover, in a management or other leadership position, you are paid to represent the interests of the company. I like to think of it as literally stepping into a suit of clothing that represents the position. For example, this individual was required to step into the role of “manager” or “school principal”. Sounds simple enough.
When stepping into a managerial role, it can be really easy to make the transition from yourself as “individual person” to “manager”. But your personal values, beliefs and ways of operating must align to a great degree with those required in the work role. The rub comes when your personal values, beliefs, and ways of operating are either more expansive or restrictive than those required of your company and/or role.
This is where this school principal was having a hard time: He saw this substitute teacher as a “good employee”, so why would the school district care about whether or not she smoked pot at home. After all, weren’t dependable employees hard to come by? Why would he need to do anything as long as the substitute wasn’t bringing pot into the workplace?
In short, he was looking at the situation using his more “open” personal values and beliefs, instead of viewing the situation through the lens required of his position as school principal (which dictated that he enforce the school district’s drug policy along with the public policy consideration of holding those working with students to a higher standard than the average Joe).
How easy is it for you to accept and live by the values and beliefs of your company? As a manager or leader in your company, are you aware of your responsibility to represent the company’s interests even if you don’t fully agree with them? When you hire new employees (management or otherwise), how do you determine whether or not there is alignment between their personal values and beliefs and those of the company? And how does your company convey its expectations to managers about carrying out the role as company representative?
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR NEWSLETTER, BLOG OR WEBSITE? You can, as long as you include this information with it: Beth Strathman works with leaders to maximize the “people side” of business and evolve into the leader they are meant to become. Learn more about her at: firebrandconsultingllc.com.