Cultural norms and values play a significant role in all organizations, from businesses in the economic sector to religious, political, and sports organizations. Strong organizational cultures can have many benefits, such as those described in the Zappos example. However, sometimes a strong organizational culture is less positive. Vince Lombardi, renowned coach of the Green Bay Packers, is often quoted as saying, “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” Many sports teams from junior sports to professional sports have either explicitly or implicitly touted this attitude as exemplary. Others, however, argue that this attitude is what’s wrong with sports and leads to injury, minor misbehavior, and criminal behavior. It encourages players to do whatever it takes to win—from tripping a player or other unsportsmanlike conduct during middle-school sports to throwing a game as part of gambling. When a player hears the message as “any action will be tolerated as long as you are winning,” there can be serious consequences on and off the field. Recent examples include high-school football players convicted of rape, yet Jen Floyd Engel of Fox Sports noticed “a shocking lack of outrage” within the community as they continued to support their football heroes. How could leaders of sports organizations communicate the will to win and develop the necessary skills while maintaining ethical behavior? Think of examples of coaches who coaxed players to play by the rules and maintain high personal ethical standards. What other socialization experiences could a coach use? What is the role of team leaders in encouraging high ethical standards while building the desire to win? Name some other examples of organizational culture leading to business failure, criminal behavior, or civil legal actions.
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