“My personal decisions do not affect my work.” This is a common workplace attitude in our culture today.  I’ve always found reason to doubt this idea, particularly for leaders.  Leadership involves influencing others to make good decisions, especially when the choices and consequences are difficult.  To attain these leadership skills, you must first be able to lead yourself.  Your values, character, goals and level of commitment will inevitably affect how well you function as leader.  Everyone has flaws, and everyone has personal battles; but to expect someone who is fundamentally unwise in his or her personal life to offer wise leadership in the workplace is wishful thinking at best.

Consider the following example: Tom has been the floor manager of your machine shop for several years.  You have invested valuable time and money training him.  He is responsible for closing down the machine shop each night where you have millions of dollars in equipment.  You depend on Tom, and all your organization’s production capacity depends on being properly secured each evening from theft, fire, or other damage.

Unfortunately, Tom has made a series of bad personal decisions over these years.  He’s earned several citations for speeding and DUI’s.  Lately, he appears agitated and unfocused on the job.  He was unable to report for work Monday because he was incarcerated for 24 hrs.  Your General Manager had to scramble to have a replacement cover Tom’s shift, which made many of the other employees have to shift their plans (family and business) for the next couple of days.  In addition, adjustments had to be made for Tom to attend court appearances and mandatory driver training.

I think you get the picture.  Tom’s personal decisions are affecting your entire team.  Even worse, his demonstrated irresponsibility is a cause for genuine concern for your team and his personal wellbeing.  If you allow him to continue in his current role, you are potentially putting your entire operation at risk.  Your dependence on Tom’s leadership has come to a crossroads.

Obviously, we can’t make work policies to govern personal conduct, but it’s definitely valuable to consider the link. The key is to ensure that you are assembling and promoting team members that already have the values that contribute to your culture.

This is Jason Walker sharing an Elite Team INSIGHT.