I'm working on a column for Workforce on the "No A**hole Rule", which means that your organization has taken such a stand against the destructive, bad behavior of toxic employees that you've institutionalized a rule against it. First coined, to my knowledge, by Bob Sutton; don't we all like seeing the rule? After all, it rings true to everything we want our companies to be from a behavior standpoint.
My point in the draft version of the column? You better back it and be ready to walk talent to the door if you put that on the culture card, kids. Because most of us don't walk the walk.
Case in point: Michael Jordan. Michael Freaking Jordan.
I'm a Pistons fan, so know that going in (I should add that to the Frauenheim Disclosure now that I think about it). Here's the deal on Jordan - he's the greatest player of all time, but he was so uber-competitive that he routinely bullied, intimidated and played Jedi-mind games with teammates, coaches, refs and league officials alike during his playing days. It's well documented.
What will you do with the Michael Jordan of your organization once you have the No A**hole Rule that you crave? Going to walk him to the door? Think your C-level supports that?
Don't believe that Michael Jordan was difficult enough to warrant measurement under the No A**hole Rule when he played? Consider the following quotes (and thoughts captured from Yahoo Sports) from his Hall of Fame induction speech, where you're generally at your most classy as you thank all who helped you:
If you put that No A**hole Rule on the culture cards, would you walk Michael Jordan to the door because he couldn't abide by it? That's what you should think about, because the reality is that most people are unwilling to walk much lesser talents to the door - because they think they can't live without them.
– To the coach who cut him from the varsity as a North Carolina schoolboy (who was in the crowd at the Hall of Fame). “I wanted to make sure you understood: You made a mistake, dude.” …
–To Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy — Jordan called him Pat Riley’s “little guy” — who accused Jordan of “conning” players by acting friendly toward them, then attacking them in games.--When he finally acknowledged his family, Jordan blurted, in part, to them, “I wouldn’t want to be you guys.”
--Yahoo reports: Jordan wandered through an unfocused and uninspired speech at Symphony Hall, disparaging people who had little to do with his career, like Jeff Van Gundy and Bryon Russell. He ignored people who had so much to do with it, like his personal trainer, Tim Grover. This had been a moving and inspirational night for the NBA – one of its best ceremonies ever – and five minutes into Jordan’s speech it began to spiral into something else. Something unworthy of Jordan’s stature, something beneath him.
I'd walk you to the door for falling afoul of the No A**hole Rule.
I wouldn't walk Michael Jordan to the door. And that means I really shouldn't put that rule in play.