Organizational Culture – Farewell to Wishy-Washiness

David Morrison, Chief of the Australian Army, recently went to bat to defend the army’s values, principles and organizational culture.

When allegations surfaced that army men distributed on the internet material that is degrading to women, Lieutenant General Morrison posted a YouTube video, with a personal message directed at each and every army member. If you ever wanted to see a soldier fighting for what is right, this video might just about be the ultimate example. In it you’ll find a memorable example of a leader who has tremendous clarity about what he stands for and what will not be tolerated as part of his organizational culture.

The journey to creating a respectful workplace can be ambiguous and confusing. Over the years, many of you have relayed to me how difficult it is to know what action to take when a ‘bad behaviour’ situation presents itself. Unfortunately, most situations fall in that challenging ‘grey zone’, so much so that I once dedicated a blog entry to the unique challenges of handling fifty shades of grey.

Other times, you do know what to do but the organizational culture makes it difficult if not impossible to do the right thing.

What is often lacking is a clear vision and example from the top. In many organizations, the senior leaders themselves do not demonstrate civility and respect, and sometimes are outright abrasive (as revealed in our 2012 survey on abrasive leadership in Canada).

But Lieutenant General Morrison exemplifies how a senior leader can remove all wishy-washiness and make it crystal clear where he stands and what his organizational culture stands for. And in doing so, he makes it easier for every single leader in the organization, and every rank-and-file member, to know when the right thing needs to be done and to be confident that they will receive full support.

If, after watching it, you think that the video is worthy of discussion in your team, check out our When Bad Things Happen in Good Organizations Thought Booster – a (free) tool that offers meaty team-dialogue questions. As well, for an insightful legal perspective on the matter from one of Canada’s leading employment law experts, check out my friend and colleague Stuart Rudner’s blog on Canadian HR Law.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I now invite you sit back and enjoy this thought-provoking 3-minute video…. below, or at


As usual, don’t hesitate to get in touch for any need with which we might assist you – or explore our training or consulting services.

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