business people talkingA young Vice President in a financial services company was talking about his career and the accolades he got from his manager and the owner of the company. My client has demonstrated his superior team leadership skills with his operations team. He’s also doing a great job leveraging referrals to bring on new accounts. In fact he would like to move into more of a salesperson’s role. But because he’s so good at leading his operations team, his bosses are keeping him in that role and capping his growth, development and income potential (while paying him big compliments so he’s happy about the status quo). So far he’s tolerating this situation and so that’s what he’s getting.

A CEO client was talking to me about the culture of his company and if all his employees were embodying the company core values. One of his employees, a senior technician, was continually late, making his teammates wait for him before going out on customer jobs. He was not honoring the company value of caring and respecting colleagues and clients. His excuse: ‘What’s 15 minutes?’ The CEO was torn because this is his best technician whose hours are very billable and who trains other technicians. He had talked to the technician but not taken any stronger action. So far he’s tolerating this situation and so that’s what he’s getting.

How it impacts the person/situation you’re tolerating. When we tolerate situations, actions or communications that aren’t right, we are holding people to a low standard. It dishonors them and all the people their actions are impacting. Basically you’re saying, ‘Your integrity doesn’t matter because you’re not that important. We relax the standards for you. You need it to be easier because you can’t handle what we expect.’

How it impacts others: We’re in effect communicating that others can adopt the lower standard as well because that’s the way we do things around here. It can be a cancer that spreads through an organization.

How it impacts you: Along the same lines Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ So if you’re tolerating something in spite of the negative thoughts and anxiety that something’s not right, remember that if you don’t take action, you’re giving tacit permission for the action to happen over and over again. You are responsible for tolerating it and not changing it. Does that eat away at your own sense of integrity and make you complicit in what’s going on? Sure it does.

So what are you tolerating in your business or in other parts of your life? When will you take responsibility for changing those things?

Jeri Quinn

Jeri Quinn from Driving Improved Results is an executive coach, management consultant, speaker and author who focuses on communication in her work with executives and companies. She is the author of The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. With more than 40 years as a serial entrepreneur.

Quinn has worked with executives and teams in over 40 industries, spoken at major business expos including New York City’s Javits Center, facilitated business development and extraordinary customer service at institutions such as MoMA and AIG, and has partnered with New York City, The Kauffman Foundation, Citibank, Merrill Lynch, HSBC, and Signature Bank to educate their clients.


She can be reached at:

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