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June 23, 2022

Firing People Who Don't Practice the 15 Commitments

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One of the questions people have about bringing The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership into a team or organization is, “It sounds like you (CLG) are saying that The 15 Commitments are binary, you’re either in or you’re out. Is that true?” 

First, let me answer the question and then explain our reasoning. The answer is yes. At some point living consciously, practicing conscious leadership and having The 15 Commitments be the cultural operating system is binary. It will become a terminatable offense to not practice the commitments. 

Now the reasoning… 

First, if you’re a leader of a team or organization, do you fire people? 

If so, for what reasons can someone be fired in your organization? Really think about this. In most cases the answers seem to boil down to three buckets; (1) underperforming, (2) not being a cultural fit by not living up to the core values, or (3) violating a law or rule. In some cases you have a zero tolerance policy, one strike and you’re out. In other instances you follow a process which includes giving feedback, creating a developmental plan, eventually writing them up and putting them on a performance plan. If all this doesn’t create the desired outcome, then termination is the final step. 

In other words, you do fire people, and in most cases you have terminatable offenses and a process. So the real question is this, “Are you willing to have not practicing The 15 Commitments be one of the reasons people get fired?” Is it one of those conditions where people are given feedback, a development plan, put on a performance plan and eventually fired? 

We think it will be IF you as a leader and your leadership team are committed to using The 15 Commitments to create a sustainable work environment. In our experience The 15 Commitments fit into bucket #2 above, not being a cultural fit by not living up to the core values. 

When a team co-commits to having The 15 Commitments be the operating system of the culture these become part of the core values of the entity:

  1. Take responsibility, don’t blame and criticize.
  2. Choose curiosity and learning over defending your position and proving that you’re right.
  3. Tell the truth, reveal and don’t conceal all relevant information.
  4. Listen deeply to your colleagues and customers.
  5. Make and keep clear agreements. 

As I’ve talked to leaders over the years who are considering or bringing CLG into their organization, eventually the conversation comes down to this: What are you going to do with team members who create drama and toxic sludge in your organization by:

  1. Continually blaming and criticizing others while never taking responsibility?
  2. Needing to defend their position at all costs and constantly needing to prove they’re the smartest person in the room?
  3. Lying, deceiving, manipulating and withholding relevant information.
  4. Not listening to others?
  5. Having  integrity breaches around their word; what they say they’ll do and not do?

Again, we’re not suggesting these are a one and done infraction. These are not zero tolerance offenses. They are coachable skills and qualities that a firm expects its team members to be growing in and practicing. 

When the questions are phrased this way I have had very few leaders who don’t get the rationale behind firing people for not practicing conscious leadership. In summary, you are going to fire people, you need to be crystal clear about what people get fired for, conscious leadership is a set of values and behaviors just like all core values and behaviors, and, at times, people will get fired for not living the values. 

Now, let’s make the conversation a little more spicy. 

If you’re really going to practice conscious leadership as the operating system of your organization, we believe there are a few more terminatable offenses. When we get pushback it’s usually around these:

1. Practice emotional intelligence. EQ is as important as IQ. This means: 

  • Know what you’re feeling in any given moment
  • Don’t be controlled by your emotions
  • Learn from the information emotions provide
  • Respect other people's feelings

2. Stop gossiping. Talk to people directly and resolve issues. 

3. Choose appreciation over entitlement and resentment.

Again, our process is about reducing drama in an organization so that more of the right work can get done with less stress, more fun, greater creativity and collaboration. In our experience, if you don’t have a culture that elevates EQ, resolves issues through direct conversation and minimizes entitlement you’ll have a culture that has drama. 

So, YES, we believe conscious leaders and organizations will fire people who don’t practice these commitments. Of course, they will take the time to fully explain, train and align the culture before anyone gets fired. And, most importantly, they and their team will practice these behaviors before they ever ask anyone else to join in. 

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