Greetings Leaders!

People tell me I ask too many rhetorical questions. I know it drives my wife crazy at times… but… what if… what if everyone, and I do mean everyone, played nicely in the sandbox together? I ask this question, because my 18 year daughter asked me the other night, wouldn’t the world be a nice place, if everyone could just be nice to each other. What a concept.

It reminds me of the book, Everything I Know, I Learned in Kidnergarten. Sometimes I wonder what we’re thinking as a society. We teach our young children that they shouldn’t smoke or drink alcohol. We tell them not to cuss or swear. We preach celibacy, honesty, fair play. We adults argue about the age for “responsible” drinking, or getting advice about sex.

Yet, by the time our kids reach their teens, most have violated all these rules. I know most is a very loose statistic, but you get the point. What bothers me a great deal though, is our growing lack of civility, our ability to play nicely together in the sandbox.

I was sitting in a management meeting the other day, and one of the executives described the decision making process from his perspective. He basically said…

let’s get real. We make decisions by getting together and arguing about the question at hand. We argue and yell at each other until someone gives in, then we move on.

Is this what we teach our kids? I know this may not be true for all of you, but I’ve seen this same mentality just about every where I’ve worked for the past 25 years. Perhaps not all the time. Perhaps not to this extent, but I have seen it everywhere. I’ve experienced CEOs yelling and cussing at their staff. I’ve seen managers – step outside. I’ve sat through conflict resolution sessions (and even led a few) where people say some awful things about each other. Is this how we get business done? If so…. why bother teaching our kids to play nice in the sandbox?

I recently blogged about Yahoo’s new CEO, Carol Bartz. She apparently cusses a lot. I don’t know if she has kids, but, if this is ok for her to do, she might as well teach her kids to do it too, and do it well. If not her kids, how about the kids of her staff. If her behavior is stating…. take no prisoners, cuss all you want because this is how we get business done… then her staff should do the same thing, and probably teach it to their kids…. if this is how business gets done. Let’s teach our kids to cuss and swear. To yell at each other on the playground. To not share their toys. To not play nicely. Let’s teach them to gossip about each other and grab what they can.

My challenge to you? Let’s make what if – a reality. This is not how business should get done. We need to be civil. I did hear an executive once say,

we can all disagree without being disagreable.

If only we could play nicely in the sandbox. We would have no terrorism or conflicts between nations. Gangs would disappear. Work would be fun. There would be no road rage, child abuse, divorce. There would be no need for unions, child advocates. There may not even be a need for lawyers (just kidding). If only…

Lead With Honor,

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