Message for Positive Corporate Culture: No Gossip on My Watch

Inspired by the monumental message this week to the Curia, Pope Francis on how gossip can be detrimental to positive corporate culture. Being negotiation based, we humans tend/need to be neutral in all elements of controversy. Religion is no exception.

The Pope’s warning of how the “terrorism of gossip” can “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood” could and should be delivered to every organization across the globe. When it comes to verbal abuse generated by gossip, the only difference between the collective cliques in the church setting and our own offices are the players. The intent of malicious gossip is to hurt, discredit, or ruin the victim. The perpetrators are covert in nature and the damage is seldom able to be reversed by the truth.

Pope Francis’ description of how cliques who generate gossip “become a cancer” in the organization is true across the organizational spectrum. We find that the majority of disputes by and between groups are fueled by gossip and innuendo. Most of the heavy lifting in the initial resolution phase is allowing both sides to vent on issues of gossip. Allowing the victim the ability to address gossip is emotional and very seldom heals damaged reputations – but it is an essential exercise.

At best we need to prevent gossip in the corporate setting – at the very least we need to monitor the flow. The $64,000 question is “how?” Pope Francis gave us an excellent example to follow. He simply informed the Curia he would not tolerate gossip. Better still, the Pope went to great lengths to remind the group of the insidious outcome of gossip.

Creating a positive corporate culture demands opportunities to stop gossip before it begins. Organizations need much more than the anonymous complaint box. Early anger issues need to be identified and worked through before the sabotage begins. A positive corporate culture demands leadership that has not only the ability to listen but the ability to keep the team on track. But ultimately – zero tolerance for those participating in gossip.  Good overview of the Pope’s message by at Kerri Lenartowick at

Next week we’ll have a look at some of those practices that make our team genuinely desire to “breathe as one”.

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