I’ve never lived in a world, or worked in an organization, that was void of rules. Rules can be a drag, but they can also serve as a very functional guide to productive behavior. Rules should always be purposeful, behavioral, very specific, and kept to an absolute minimum.
Rules should always represent minimum, reasonable standards of expected behavior, not stretch effort. For people with an internal locus of control that focus on group goals and hold themselves accountable to high standards of performance and conduct, rules are irrelevant. Good rules are only an issue for those that make bad choices.
Always stand behind, but never hide behind, your rules. Rules should be continually evaluated for their value and ability to serve the purpose. Eliminate or change a rule the moment it ceases to enable your people to work together more effectively. Rules are only as stupid as the people that use them as excuses to avoid improving systems.
Whatever you do, never bend the rules. If you make an exception to the rules for one person, you will send a discouraging message to the rest of your folks. If you bend a rule for one person, your standards and expectations will become ambiguous to everyone else. Bending a rule will teach people that you are willing to play favorites, unwilling to take the heat when the pressure is on, and unable to see the ethical gaps of your own behavior. If a rule no longer works for the group, change it.
Your behavior as a leader should teach people that “rule” is an innocuous four letter word. What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!