Volume 5, Issue 12, December 2006
DO YOU DO WHAT IS RIGHT FOR THE TEAM OR DO YOU DO WHAT IS RIGHT?
I was watching a TV program about a high school football team in the United States. The program is called "Friday Night Lights" and is about a small town football team that is the centre of all social activity in the city.
In this particular episode, a team member beats up another teen who is not on the team, but had criticized the team at a local teen hangout. What ensued was the football player being caught and then lying about the incident. Subsequently the team backed their player. That is where the conflict began as a few of the players, the quarterback in particular, knew that what his teammate and ultimately the team were doing was in fact not right. Of course the narrative showed how much pressure there was to back the team even though the team was wrong.
Let's analyze this from the standpoint of right and wrong and when it is appropriate to do what is right even though that would make you a target as a snitch or could even make you an outcast in the group.
Bottom line to this and I have said this before - do not go to jail for anyone. Too many times we are silent about an issue at work or within the team that we have actually put ourselves in jeopardy because we may be seen as accomplices in the act.
As an aside, let me say that the word team for the purposes of this Caravan means any group that you are part of. It would be a work group; a union; an association; a board of directors; a group of friends; family or as with the TV program an actual team.
There is a great deal of pressure to conform to the will of the team; especially the 2%ers in the team who believe they are in control of the team. These 2%ers can be very persuasive and controlling when it comes to breaking ranks with what these people perceive is acting for the benefit of the team, when in fact they are only interested in their private agenda. They will use threats of punishment, ostracization and even expulsion if one transgresses against the will of the team. This is the most pervasive form of bullying.
All many of us want is to be part of the team, so it is important to understand that the dynamics of the team are difficult for many to stand against.
Some of the indicators that something is amiss are when one becomes part of a clandestine conspiracy to cover up some sort of act or to engage in a plot that would adversely affect another member in the team or out of the team.
We are told that the thing we are doing is for the benefit of the team, so how do we know if the issue is above or below the law? Simply put, unless you are the 2%er who is trying to adversely affect others with your action, you know if what you are doing is right or wrong. Come on people, the little hairs on the back of your head stand up and something in your stomach jumps because that is when you ask the question; is what we are about to do right?
Many of us know right from wrong. In the Mouradian Model for Cooperative Action© it clearly states that you cannot do anything that will adversely affect others or the planet. There is an old saying, "you cannot cheat an honest man".
Whenever I am approached to do something that may affect another, I simply ask myself, "would I want someone to do this to me?" Sounds simple, but too many of us will follow our teammates blindly and accept an explanation even though we know the outcome of what we are doing is going to harm others.
Keep in mind that the 2%er has an agenda and it is appropriate to ask what that agenda is. Yes, you will get a convoluted answer and if that answer does not satisfy you as to the morality of what you are doing, then STOP!!! DO NOT PARTICIPATE!!!
Remember to do what is right morally, ethically and legally is not necessarily right for the team. I believe we would not have had the Sponsorship Scandal if people did what was right. Now, you say to me that I have brought a new wrinkle into the debate. What if you doing what is right can get you fired or could severely limit your upward mobility in an organization? I will restate my earlier comment; do not go to jail for anyone.
Also, if you are in the public arena make sure that you do not get sucked into the "stick with the team" mentality, because whatever you do and whatever you are apart of that adversely affects others, you will go down with the team.
In summing up, I have to say that at all times doing what is right supersedes doing what is right for the team. No amount of intimidation can thwart that. No amount of coercion can thwart that. No amount of peer pressure can thwart that.
You are in control of your own sense of right and wrong. You are in control of whether you will participate in harming others with your actions. There is no excuse for behaviour that adversely affects someone else when you know what you are doing is not right.
Our legal beagle Pierre, says there are four truths. There is your truth, there is my truth, there is the real truth and there is what the judge decides. You never want to be in a position to find out what the judge decides. Say no to the team and say yes to what is right.
You can do it.
By Pierre R. Ouellette Hon.B.A., LL.B.
An interesting story hit the Canadian news a few weeks ago and I thought that I would bring it back for a quick review. The item dealt with an internal memo directed to female members of the Montreal police department. The document suggested that whenever a female officer had to deal with members of a particular orthodox religious community that they have their male colleague step in to handle the situation. This was put forward as a gesture of religious tolerance in that male members of this sect are encouraged to avoid contact with women who are not their wives. Many thought that the recommendation appeared innocent enough but what it was in fact was a potential violation of Human Rights!
Human rights codes throughout Canada protect the rights of religious communities. They recognize the rights of members to protect and live by their own traditions. However when somebody suggests that a female employee outside of those communities should take a back seat to their male colleagues in any situation then a line has been crossed. It does not matter what the motivation for the traditions is or whether anyone thinks that the tradition is a good one or a bad one. The only thing that matters is that the distinction was based on gender and that such a distinction in the workplace is discrimination.
There are many occasions when individual human rights can come into conflict with community rights. This was one of those occasions. The ‘suggestion’ was eventually castigated in the press and for good reason. Replace ‘female’ with another descriptive term such as ‘black’ or ‘gay’ and one can more easily appreciate the situation. In the end, the story demonstrated that in this country individual rights always trump group rights!
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