Live It

  • Establish clear "dos" and "don'ts" for each situation—and for important requirements, identify the consequences for noncompliance in advance.
  • Stay close enough to be aware of changes in how people respond to you; it may signal a problem.
  • When noncompliance is evident, use questions to ensure your understanding of the problem and identify people's specific involvement.
  • Allow each person to admit what he or she did to enhance your knowledge of the situation, and help them accept the consequences.
  • Assign consequences based on what each person did.
  • Consider whether some negative aspects should be mitigated for both the sake of relationships and for how others will perceive the situation; for example, the tunics God made for Adam and Eve reduced some negative aspects of their punishment yet kept the punishment intact.
  • Adopt a long-term view of the situation and ensure your actions address both the immediate problem and any likely future implications.

See It

A senior executive faced a particularly sticky issue with an heir apparent for one of his organizations. The man had just publicly displayed insubordination toward that organization's current manager—someone the senior executive intended to remove shortly. His first inclination was to move forward with his plan and promote the offender. However, the executive realized this action would "reward," or at least ignore, the unacceptable behavior. If he moved ahead with the promotion, it might encourage others to follow suit. So the executive met with the offender and used questions to uncover the man's view of the situation. He admitted his actions were wrong but felt they were justified given the manager's incompetence. The executive then announced his decision: he was going to transfer the man to an unfavorable department, and he would also be ineligible for the soon-to-be-open top position. However, the transfer would be only for one year, and additional promotion opportunities were expected after he returned. The consequences were severe yet measured in terms of the man's long-term career with the company. By his decision, and the way he handled the interaction, the senior executive sent a strong message to the organization about his expectations.

Address Unacknowledged Failures and Mistakes

Adam and Eve had children after they were banished from the Garden of Eden. Two of their sons, Cain and Abel, were participants in the world's first murder.

And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, "Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it." Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" He said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?" And He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground. So now you are cursed from the earth, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother's blood from your hand. When you till the ground, it shall no longer yield its strength to you. A fugitive and a vagabond you shall be on the earth." And Cain said to the Lord, "My punishment is greater than I can bear! Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me." And the Lord said to him, "Therefore, whoever kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold." And the Lord set a mark on Cain, lest anyone finding him should kill him.