This is something every leader must avoid because it will destroy everything you are working for.
Hi. Today I want to talk to you about something I think is quite destructive to relationships, robs people and organizations of innovation, foster cynicism, can crush morale, and can create a culture of fear and anxiety.
That problem, that issue, is legalism. It rears itself in business and education and religious institutions, sports, arts it doesn’t really matter wherever you have organizations and people working together you have the potential for legalism.
Let me give you three signs that deal legalism‘s rearing its ugly head.
1. When people begin to value rules over relationships that would be the first one. Just recently financed, I should say refinanced my home in the current climate of the mortgage challenge in our country. I have solid credit, solid financial standing the numbers were right but there are so many rules, so many hoops to jump through that it became difficult to go through the process. It took months, it was very frustrating to me and it was frustrating for some of the people trying to work with me the bankers and others involved in this. It’s just there were so many rules that it seemed that my relationship to the institutions I’d had for so many years in the trust that had been built didn’t matter … rules mattered more. That’s where things get a little too legalistic.
2. A second sign is when we value being right over being righteous. When someone says no, my opinion, my point of view matters more than our integrity as an organization or my integrity as a person. That’s what I mean by righteous it’s not just the religious terms think of it in terms of integrity. A group once wrote an article against an organization I was a part of misrepresented facts, distorted data, were trying to find things to manipulate and use for their own purposes and their own agenda. I confronted them on this particular article and pointed out the discrepancies in it, in light of reality and gave them the real facts. They eventually acknowledged that yes they were wrong and I said, “Great would you print a retraction in your next issue?” They said, “No.” Because it was more important for them to be right, to appear that they were right. It’s frustrating; their integrity to me was compromised in that situation.
3. A third sign would be protecting our own reputation instead of being able to name a reality, whatever the cost for that might be. Looking at myself instead of looking at the problem or the issue and letting that kind of rule the day. So a drug company makes a mistake and what do they do? They manipulate the government or other legislation or the political arena or the legal arena. They do something to try to cover up or act like it wasn’t there a problem because they care more about protecting their brand. In reality they destroy their brand because they destroy the reputation.
So legalism is everywhere and you’ll find it as I said in business, in arts, in education any institution you’re a part of. The place you need to watch out for the most is in the mirror.
Do you care more about your rules instead of the relationships you’re forming?
Do you care more about being right than having integrity and being in right standing with others?
Do you care more about protecting your own reputation or your organizations then you care about reality?
If that’s happening you’re becoming a legalistic Don’t let that happen, lead well today and watch out for legalism.