Standing up to the daily trolls

Taking a stand is a daily opportunity

I love utilising sport stories in my programs. It is a transparent industry with great public access with direct correlations to our own workplaces. The story lines are easy to follow and usually an intensified version of what we are going through. Cameron Schwab, the former AFL Club CEO, and founder of Design CEO speaks of business being very similar to sport. Cameron states in his blog (what business can learn from football) that professional football clubs need to plot themselves into one of two phases:

Phase 1: We are good enough to win now

Phase 2: We are on track to build a team good enough to win in the future.

In business terms, Cameron recommends business leaders to ask themselves the following questions:

1. What does winning look like?

2. What do we need to be good at?

3. What are we going to do?

4. How will we know?

Cameron Schwab, a leading figure in CEO Professional Development. Cameron utilises the learnings from footy to drive business leadership insights.

Cameron Schwab, a leading figure in CEO Professional Development. Cameron utilises the learnings from footy to drive business leadership insights.

In Australia, AFL Football is king. It gets the most media coverage and has the most storylines to follow. Over the past week or two the biggest football news stories have had nothing to do with football and everything to do with people’s behaviours.

Online trolls have dominated the sports news cycle. First there was the Tayla Harris photo. The AFLW Carlton player was photographed kicking a great goal, and online trolls went into misogynistic overdrive causing all sorts of reactions described in this ABC News Report.

Then there was the Richmond Fan banned for two years from footy due to their online racist comments towards West Coast Eagles player Liam Ryan (Inside Sport Report). In both cases the governing body and industry leaders rightly stepped in and created a positive response and narrative. There was an eventual hard line consensus on the behaviour standard required by everyone.

The West Coast Eagles used education and unity to drive their point in the face of out-date racism experienced by their players.

The West Coast Eagles used education and unity to drive their point in the face of out-date racism experienced by their players.

Click to watch the video

The highlight in this case is the video produced and distributed by the West Coast Eagles. This is a public message using education and emotion to drive a point. To hold others accountable. To call out a standard of behaviour. It has proved to be very powerful.

It could have been ridiculed as ingenuous and manipulative, or cynically seen as a publicity stunt. But it hit the right note and gained plaudits throughout. This action has gained momentum quickly and ignited a debate in an industry with a long wrap sheet of past racial incidents. 

To stand up to injustices in our workplaces takes audacity. We assume there are invisible rules that say a boss can bully. Or a client can be irrational. Or a bloke can get preference. These opportunities to Stand Up occur daily. By taking them, we can have a impact on the culture of our workplace, our workflow rhythm, and the outcomes we achieve.

A few ways to start integrating this into our own behaviour:

1.       Start by calling things out privately in one-on-one

2.       Do it as soon as possible

3.       Frame your comment as a question. Such as “One sec, I don’t quite understand that… can you explain it to me?”

4.       Take a note of the toxic behaviours you have seen in the last week or two. By writing them down, you’ll know what to look for.

5.       Self -reflect on your own behaviours. Where did you get it wrong? Where did you get it right? Do less of the former, do more of the latter.

 

Leadership doesn’t require a title. It requires behaviours that set a standard. Standing up to injustice, inequity, and inconsideration is a tough gig, but who else is going to do it if you don’t?

The moment a jarring behaviour is seen or heard is the moment of opportunity to Stand Up. Bringing Audacity into our skill set is a powerful peer-to-peer activity to drive team performance.