Saturday, March 12, 2011

We are teachers all the time

If you want your team to treat each other with respect, treat everyone with respect. If you want your team to make ethical decisions, make ethical decisions yourself. But be sure the people you're trying to inspire think of you as "like them" in some way. We are all influenced by the behavior of others: if we feel an affinity with you, we'll behave more like you. If we don't, we just might do the opposite. If you hold yourself apart, you may not have the influence you expect to have.

Francesca Gino and Dan Ariely "gave groups of college students from Carnegie Mellon University a series of math problems and paid them based on how many they solved correctly in five minutes." Gino explains in an HBR article, "We hired an actor who made it clear to the other participants that cheating was possible. The actor was asked to wear a plain t-shirt in one condition, and a t-shirt of a rival university in another. When the actor appeared to be a member of the students' community, participants were more likely to cheat than when the actor appeared to be a member of another group. The actor was setting the norm for whether cheating was acceptable."

What you do is reflected in the actions of others.

What does your team see you do? Do you pad your expense account? Do you order more expensive meals at a business lunch than you would order if lunch were on your own dime? Do you squeeze the supplier you know needs the sale just because you can? What does your team learn?

What do your children see you do? Do you take home pads of paper from the office? Do you sneak your short 13-year-old in to movies with a "12 & under discount"? Are you making little cheats on your taxes? What do your children learn?

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