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circa 1933:  American film actress & sex symbol, Mae West (1892 - 1980).  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

I like restraint, if it doesn’t go too far. Mae West

In my business experience, I haven’t met (m)any people who learned at home—or at school—how businesses essentially work or how to behave within an organization. Like other roles in our lives, mother, daughter, friend, spouse, etc., we learn by experience and figure things out by the seat of our pants.

In “What is Management?” I proposed the basis of how businesses work. I encourage you to come back to these 11 bullet points until they are second-nature. We spend so much of our time working in organizations while actually ignoring the context of business and its requirements of us as leaders, managers, and employees.

My clients often ask for my input on difficult employee situations that inevitably occur. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t begin my response by first reflecting on “How Business Works.” As I listen to situations, clarify goals, and probe for motivations one thing crops up time and time again—the issue of restraint, or self-control.

At a very basic level, organizations simply cannot function unless everyone has achieved some minimum level of maturity. We don’t work well together unless each of us takes responsibility for our own behavior and exercises control over our own urges which may come from any direction; absentmindedness, fear, power, self-image, control, and so on.

Management has a reasonable expectation that employees will conduct themselves responsibly, with restraint, and even professionally. Employees must take responsibility for their role at work, recognizing its basic requirements, the same way they take responsibility in their roles as mother, daughter, friend, and spouse.

Employees have a reasonable expectation that Management will conduct themselves responsibly, with restraint, and to “do” management instead of just tasks. It is on them to provide leadership, goals, clear communication, and constantly state and reiterate the importance of values, purpose, and the company’s vision. Management must take responsibility for their role in the organization and not confuse it with power, control, micromanaging, dismissiveness, and the like.

Mae West was quite a character. For organizations to excel what we need is a lot of character.