Tolerations are “things that bug us, sap our energy, and could be eliminated!
Tolerations are holes in your personal success cup; they drain away your contentment and good fortune,“ according to Thomas Leonard, often called the creator of the life coaching movement. Leonard continues, “(Tolerations) drain YOU. They make you feel less attractive to yourself. Tolerations often represent compromises you’ve talked yourself into.”
Thomas founded Coach U and the International Coaching Federation and created many programs used by coaches worldwide to help clients be more effective in their lives. Thomas passed away suddenly in 2003, leaving a legacy of exceptional coaching methods and standards.
As part of my coaching services, I am exposed to this very powerful concept of tolerations on a regular basis. Tolerations must be dealt with in order to live a values-aligned life in your family, community, or workplace – and to creating a purposeful, positive, productive work culture.
How do senior leaders’ tolerations of bad behavior impact their organization’s culture? If senior leaders want a vibrant, fun, cooperative, results-oriented work culture yet tolerate behaviors that are inconsistent with desired valued behaviors, undesirable results always occur. Those include:
- Organization leaders and members are frustrated and disappointed – accountability is inconsistent, which erodes both performance and commitment to the organization, its customers, and its stakeholders.
- Leader credibility is eroded – if senior leaders say they want a certain culture yet they tolerate poor behavior from organization leaders or members, then senior leaders’ words and commitments are not trusted.
- The desired culture never gains traction.
Senior leaders are often blind as to what they are tolerating in their culture. They often do not clearly see the negative impact of those tolerations. Tolerations create a frustrating work environment and inhibit performance and creativity. They drain energy and commitment and erode respect across the workforce. The costs are real.
The good news: controlling senior leader tolerations is about each senior leader’s choices and behavior – it’s not about fixing others around them. Sometimes partnering with a competent executive coach can help senior leaders see their culture – and their tolerations – from a new perspective, and help them identify the key tolerations that are causing frustration and holding their organization back.
Recognize and address your tolerations
Whether you are a senior leader of a multi-million dollar company, a project team lead, or anyone in between, eliminating follows the same series of steps.
- Have conversations with those players whose behavior you’ve been tolerating, one at a time. These are non-judgmental conversations – not emotional or explosive conversations. These people have been behaving in these ways for a long time because you have ALLOWED them to; you have tolerated their behavior. Now, you have made a choice to not tolerate that behavior anymore.
- Create a list of the things that bug you, that drain your energy, that compromise desired behaviors in your culture. Focus particularly on behaviors that are inconsistent with your organization’s desired valued behaviors.
- Prioritize your list so the issues that have the greatest negative impact can be addressed first. Being conscious of what you’ve tolerated in your culture helps you modify your choices and your behavior to no longer accept them.
- Secure clear agreements about future behavior, and hold those players accountable for their commitments.
- Engage the player regularly to praise progress and accomplishment, and redirect players if they struggle with their new commitments. If players are unable to keep their commitments, lovingly set them free – help them out of the organization as they are unable to demonstrate desired valued behaviors.
As you eliminate tolerations in your culture, you will be amazed at the demonstration of increased energy, motivation, performance, and commitment by organization leaders and members.
What are you tolerating in your personal or professional life today? What experience do you have with sanity and growth after reducing tolerations?