It can be scary: I have a daughter who is early in her teen years. Increasingly, there are more late nights, whispered phone calls, and social media wizardry I’m grappling to understand. When she’s out of my sight…will she do the “right” thing? Will she make smart choices?

 

Recently, at a company struggling through massive change, a manager shared, “We just need people to do the right thing. If everyone does that, we’ll be fine.”

 

The question, of course, is this: Has your team decided what’s the “right” thing to do…

 

…when the customer relentlessly pushes you on price (and you want to talk about value)?

 

…when a colleague is not being accountable to actions agreed upon in meetings?

 

…when we have information another department would benefit knowing – but would expose a flaw in our projections?

 

 

In this age of speed, leaders are pleading for employees to step-up, be responsible and take action. However, relying on the assumption that everyone defines “the right thing to do” in the same way is risky. Assuming everyone will do the same thing you would do is like expecting a bus-load of 5-year-olds to pick the same flavor of ice cream when faced with 31 choices.

 

(It’s risky business if I assume my daughter knows the right thing to say when a mischievous peer offers her a beer.)

 

Leaders create an edge for their teams when they consistently build the collective wisdom of the group. Before your team leaves the next meeting, ask them, “If independently we’re faced with this issue after this meeting, what would we agree is the ‘right’ thing to do?”

 

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