Published On: Mon, Nov 7th, 2011



By: Rick Boxx


Just as in many families, many businesses seem to struggle with achieving a proper balance between maintaining rules and discipline while providing employees enough latitude for freedom and individuality. Some organizations are far too permissive, allowing their personnel to do virtually anything as they see fit. Others are too strict, severely restricting their staff’s actions and behavior.


When I lead business workshops, I like to teach the following formula:


“Rules + Relationships = Corporate Integrity.”


My years of experience in the corporate world have taught me this balance is crucial for a healthy, productive working environment. If you have rules, but have very little in terms of relationship, you will likely experience rebellion.


If, on the other hand, you have placed a strong emphasis on relationships, but you do not have well-thought-out, established guidelines for everyday practices and behavior, you might experience chaos. Being able to balance the two provides assurance to your people that you care about them, yet at the same time expect them to produce results in keeping with your company’s mission and values.


Romans 13:3 teaches, “For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.”


The problem occurs when there is confusion among your employees as to what “to do right” means. As leaders, our responsibility is to communicate that clearly and effectively. Just as sociologists have discovered children are most content when they understand their boundaries – whether at home or in school – business and professional people also look to their leaders to define the parameters under which they are expected to perform their jobs.


Rules and guidelines, especially when created with valued input from the people who will be governed by them, are not restrictive. They actually are empowering, because the individuals understand they are free to use their talents and abilities within those limits. Without those rules, workers can become confused, even immobilized, by fear of doing something wrong.


The alternative is for personnel to determine their own standards, which can have chaotic results. As Proverbs 29:18 tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people run wild.” Another translation expresses the same passage this way: “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.”


Establishing rules just for the sake of controlling people can be demoralizing, so guidelines must be used as a means for enhancing the productivity – and satisfaction – of people in your employ.


Strong, effective leaders know how to balance compassion and discipline. Do you?


Copyright 2011, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity.

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