Five Rules

“Policies are too often put in place by weak leaders to keep smart people from making good decisions.”

–     Steve Heston

Rules suck.  Rules limit differentiation and creativity.  Rules, much of the time, are really excuses.  That’s why I only have five.

Rule #1:  Be reliable.  Show up on time, every day, ready to work.

Rule #2:  Be positive.  The glass really is half full.  If there’s a problem, recommend a solution.

Rule #3:  Treat the company’s resources as if they were your own.  Because they are.

Rule #4:  Be honest.  There’s no mistake so big it can’t be forgiven, no lie so small that it can be.

Rule #5:  Let’s don’t do stupid stuff.*

One way to know if you have too many rules is if you’re trained to say “I can’t” when what you really mean is “I won’t.”  Nordstrom’s, Ritz Carlton and Zappos are famous, and wildly successful, primarily because they hire great people and then ask them to simply be great people.

I’m not promoting anarchy.  I’m begging for common sense.  If every day, as a leader, all you had to do was work with your team to resolve situations that arose from their creative use of common sense to attempt to solve a problem — well, sign me up for a day like that!

*Kudos (and credit) to my friend Bill Clay for suggesting Rule #5 a few years back — and thus creating the great planning meeting moment where someone says, “Wait, that would be a Rule 5 Violation!”


  1. I’m a big fan of the Heston Rules – particularily #5!


  1. […] doesn’t make them “good.”  Several people with whom we work today will commit Rule #5 violations.  That doesn’t make them “bad.”  Someone for whom we work today will issue a […]

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