Shaping culture through inaction

I follow Dan Rockwell on twitter. His handle is @leadershipfreak and he tweets quite a bit of good leadership content. If you don't follow him, I recommend you give him a look.

Dan sent a tweet out about how reinforcing behaviors builds organizational culture.

Behaviors you model, affirm, and reward build organizational culture.
— Dan Rockwell (@Leadershipfreak) July 4, 2014

I agree with the tweet. I retweeted it.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing by BK, on Flickr

It got me thinking. It is not only the things we reward that shape culture, but the things we allow. Perhaps the easiest way to shape a culture is to do nothing at all.

When a rockstar employee yells at, denigrates, or refuses to help teammates and you let it slide because the rockstar is valuable, you are shaping a culture. When a teammate tells a racist or sexist joke and you say nothing because nobody present is a member of the target group, you are shaping a culture. When an executive abuses power, when a coworker engages in gossip, when a team cuts corners to make deadlines and you decide it isn't your problem, you are shaping a culture.

What appears to be inaction is still an action.