In order to protect the positive culture that a leader is trying to create, he/she must have the courage to be like an NFL referee and “throw a penalty flag”, or confront a below-the-line behavior that could erode what he/she is working toward.

  • Shooting down ideas: When wet-blankets smother someone offering up a fragile, creative solution/suggestion, it shuts the team down.
  • Elephants in the room running free: When there is an unresolved issue between team members and the leader lets it fester, tension on the team prevents the free flow of team communication.
  • Missed deadlines: When there is a lack of accountability and people not coming through on time, the vision slows down and results stall.
  • Tardiness: When people don’t show respect for each other’s time, the culture gradually shifts toward starting all meetings late.
  • Indecision: When those tasked with project/team leadership hesitate and don’t pull the trigger on decisions, precious time is wasted or opportunities are missed.
  • Gossip: When there is negativity about team members running amok behind people’s backs, reputations are scarred and relationships crumble.
  • Lashing out: When someone throws caution/restraint to the wind and unloads on a teammate, that relationship may be irreparable for the long haul, and people become guarded around that colleague.
  • Double-standards: When leaders allow inappropriate/unprofessional behavior for some people or in certain situations, but not others, that inconsistency causes distrust and stirs up dissension.

Version 2 of this post might actually include what those penalties could look like. Maybe you have some input on that for one or more of them? I’d love to hear it, or one that I’ve missed. Email me at And if you haven’t yet subscribed to my YouTube channel (Paul Casey), head on over there for over 70 short videos on leadership or self-leadership.