Say you found out that your teammate is snorting cocaine. You wouldn’t think to yourself, “Neat! Maybe I’ll snort some cocaine too!” No, you’d try to find your teammate help. You’d tell someone. She certainly wouldn’t be allowed on the team anymore.
You wouldn’t stop to think about it. You wouldn’t log onto WebMD to see if there are harmful side effects associated with snorting cocaine. You wouldn’t need to experience it yourself to know that cocaine is a really bad thing to get into.
You’d act this way because you were raised in a culture–by your parents, family, and friends–in which snorting cocaine is unacceptable. Nobody needed to tell you that explicitly, but you knew.
And yet, I once knew of a team in which snorting cocaine was acceptable–acceptable enough to delay telling the coaching staff about it.
And yet, smoking pot night after night is acceptable on some teams.
And yet, repetitive binge drinking on college campuses across the country isn’t only accepted, it’s expected. Most people don’t think twice about it.
I think team leaders define the culture. If you’re one of those leaders it’s worth your time to answer two questions, in writing:
What’s acceptable? What’s unacceptable?