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The Behaviours You Tolerate Become Your Cultural Norm

Working with people is complex. People are unpredictable and you never quite know what is going on in somebody else’s life. Added to this complexity is my belief that many educators are attracted to work in education because we like working with people AND we want to be LIKED by people. This drive to be popular and liked by others makes it particularly challenging for me to have a difficult conversation. I am sure I am not alone. I am worried that other people won’t LIKE me if I have called them on their behaviour and had a difficult conversation.


However, the behaviour that you turn a blind eye to, is the standard that you accept. Whilst I might justify to myself that I am ‘picking my fights’ or ‘choosing the best time’ to respond, turning a blind eye to unacceptable behaviour sets a low benchmark for the behaviour I am willing to accept.


By tolerating the behaviours we don’t want to see, what we are actually doing is reinforcing them. They become the norm and once they are established, they are very difficult to change. By choosing to ignore what we don’t want to see, we create an environment that will make it difficult to raise standards. The behaviours that we accept create the culture of the school.


It is vital that we role model the behaviours and culture that we want. As a leader, our attitude is contagious. It is essential that we demonstrate through both our words and our actions the behaviours and culture that we want in our school.


“Culture is created from the unspoken messages people receive about what is really valued in the organisation. It is not what is being said, communicated or plastered on the walls that matters, but what they see, hear and infer.”

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