Successful Leadership vs. Really Stupid Policies

Sometimes leadership and policies are mutually exclusive.

Don’t get me wrong — workplace policies have their place.

They can help bring clarity to ambiguity, for example. They can create some level of consistency in management. And well-written (uh,oh, there’s a nasty qualifier) policies can make leaders’ jobs simpler, as they provide somewhat standardized solutions to simple, mundane, and repetitive issues.

They can also, however, be dumber than dirt.

Case in point: Last Saturday morning, my girls talked me into taking them to one of those typical box-like breakfast joints in our area. Our server, though pleasant and reasonably efficient, had a name tag on her blouse. Except, it was blank. There was no name actually on the name tag.

We joked about it, as did some people in a nearby table, and our server just smiled.

My curiosity piqued, I had to ask… “Why, pray-tell, are you wearing a name tag with no name?” Her response? “We have a policy that you cannot work your shift unless you are wearing A name tag. I was fairly astounded, and asked “Even if it doesn’t have a name on it?” She said “Yep. It could even belong to someone else…”


I corralled the manager, much to my wife’s and daughter’s obvious chagrin. I asked him if this was true; he replied, “Yes sir, our corporate policy doesn’t require the name tag to actually have her name on it… there’s nothing I can do if she’s wearing a name tag — any name tag.”

It was all I could do to not choke him.

People, this is when policies get just plain stupid. Dumb. Idiotic. Never, ever, allow a poorly-written policy to supplant effective, positive leadership.

Policies don’t lead. They support leaders. If they don’t support leaders, change ’em or ditch ’em.

To Whomever is Writing Such Drivel… Stop it. Consider the doctor’s Hippocratic oath when compelled to write your next inane policy: First, do no harm.

But that’s just me…


Kevin Berchelmann

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