The power of 'we don't do that here'

The furore over the past fortnight of Australia’s cricket ‘ball-tampering’ scandal was a great prompt to reflect on character and culture.

steve-smith-crying Source: AAP/Brendan Esposito/via REUTERS

Although the indignant reactions of Australia’s media and personalities might have been somewhat overcooked, I couldn’t help but be perplexed at how such a pre-meditated action came to pass. How could it have transpired that in the Australian Test Cricket dressing room (of all places), something like blatant cheating had (a) been suggested, and (b) not been met with a quick - perhaps somewhat baffled or bemused - “Are you kidding? Sorry mate, we don’t do that around here”.

No doubt this was also an echo in my mind of Aja Hammerly’s excellent post on the topic.

But does it get to be that behaviour so disconnected from our values is allowed to flourish?

Back in 2013, tackling the rampant, systemic sexual harrassment and abuse of women in the Australian Defence Forces, Australia’s Chief of Army, David Morrison, hit Australian men with a similar challenge: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept”.

It sounds easy, but perhaps it’s the case that our values just aren’t clear enough?

In 2015 after a lot of soul-searching and my struggle to achieve the right climate within our team of 12-15, I had a first go at penning a team culture statement. In it, I sought to outline our vision, our characteristics - respect, passion, generosity:

We know that how we work together has a greater impact on our overall effectiveness than our technical skills or the systems that we use. When others look at us they need to see a quality team that works together well through or in spite of our rich diversity.

With clear values, it ultimately just seems to come down to those of us with the power in the situation to act and set the standard. The words of David Morrison, together with the cricket saga, form a poignant reminder of how vital it is to continually talk about our culture, to move quickly, and to make a quick statement that directs our colleagues in the right direction: “Sorry mate, we don’t do that here”.

It’s my determination to keep offering those quick words – and I pray others will be gracious enough do the same when I stray.