This is probably a mistake.

But I wrote about male/female workplace issues quite recently (“A tale of two genders,” 8/14/2017). Now we have the decline and fall of Harvey Weinstein and others of his predatory brethren, with remarkably little root cause analysis.

Let’s start with this: Harvey Weinstein was a major financial contributor to the Democratic party and its candidates. Roger Ailes used his media outlet to promote the Republican party and its candidates.

Linking their sexual predation with their political affinities is … what’s the word I’m looking for? … ah yes, that’s it: reprehensible. Please don’t. The last thing we need these days is more tribalism.

We can each freely agree with someone about their political views without incurring an obligation to defend them on any other aspect of their lives. “Us” does not mean “good person” any more than “them” means bad person.

Well, actually, it usually does, but let’s not succumb to the temptation. Let’s do the opposite and forbid political affinitizing (I don’t care if it isn’t a real word) about this. It cheapens an issue that should, under no circumstances, be cheapened.

Next, let’s jettison the next-most-popular root cause analysis: “They’re horrible human beings.” Yes, they are, but how does that help? What’s useful is understanding how they became horrible human beings.

Which gets us to what’s missing as commentators vie to write the Most Condemnatory Commentary Yet. It’s culture, a subject I wrote about last month (“It’s always the culture,” 9/25/2017).

Whenever you see a pattern of behavior that’s common to a group of people who know and associate with each other, you can bet culture is a major causal factor.

Go back to the early days of the entertainment industry. The so-called casting couch was, if not ubiquitous, certainly prevalent. Those who had them figured their couch was one of the perks of their position. Reclining in one was, for many a budding starlet, a distasteful prerequisite for a shot at the big time. Some chose (or in some cases were forced) to acquiesce. The rest went home.

Those who ran the entertainment industry knew and socialized with each other. Anyone lacking a casting couch in their own suite of offices understood the key message: This sort of thing is okay. It’s how we do things around here. It’s embedded in our culture, “us” being the powerful and important people who run this industry.

Want to understand how Ailes, Weinstein, and so many others could get away with their offenses for so many decades?

I had the good fortune of having a business partner who was a student of anthropology. Culture, he explained, is the learned behavior people exhibit in response to their environment.

In our Cro-Magnon past, a lot of the environment was physical: Animals that could be hunted, vegetables that could be gathered, plant, animal, and mineral matter that could be turned into useful implements.

In an organization, in contrast, most of your environment is the behavior of the people around you. Culture becomes a self-reinforcing loop: it’s the learned behavior people exhibit in response to the learned behavior people exhibit in response to the learned behavior people exhibit.

Ailes and Weinstein, Hitchcock before them if Tippi Hedren is to be believed, and Fatty Arbuckle before him, all were embedded in a culture where the norm was, and apparently still is in some circles, “This is okay. It’s better than okay. It’s something you deserve.”

Look at just about every horrible act performed by any group of people who knew each other at any time in the historical record, and ask how it’s possible that human beings behaved in such extraordinarily repulsive ways. The nearly uniform answer: Their culture told them this is how they’re supposed to behave. It’s more than okay. It’s approved of.

Which has what to do with you?

If you have a leadership role in your organization, you’re responsible for the learned behavior people exhibit in response to their environment, because as a leader a disproportionately important part of their environment is you.

If you indicate, directly, or by modeling, or through implication, or even through omission that something is acceptable that shouldn’t be, you’re responsible for anything and everything that happens as a result of the culture you’ve helped foster.

Members of the KJR community understand these two critical points about culture: First, being a leader isn’t a matter of position. It’s a matter of choice.

And, second, if there’s something you don’t like about your organization’s culture, the most important tool at your disposal is a mirror.

Buzzwords don’t have to be long to be grating.

Take, for example, the word “team,” which I freely confess appears quite often in this space.

Only my use of “team” doesn’t grate at all, because (1) I rarely couple its use with even-more-grating sports metaphors, and (2) I’m (usually) careful to limit its usage to denoting collections of people who are working toward the same goal, and who trust each other to be working toward the same goal.

Use #2 comes from an old but very useful model developed by a researcher with the unfortunate name of Bruce Wayne Tuchman, unfortunate because, in addition to being named after Batman’s alter ego he also shares a middle name with a disproportionate number of murderers, not that he was ever suspected of such villainy; not that any of this has much to do with the point of what follows; also, if your middle name also happens to be “Wayne” I hope you haven’t taken offense; and if your middle name happens to be “Wayne” and you have taken offense I sincerely hope you have no murderous tendencies.

Where was I? Oh, yes, “team” and its misuse.

Regular readers, and even more so those who have read Leading IT: <Still> the Toughest Job in the World will recall that one of the eight tasks of leadership is managing team dynamics. Even the less-enlightened usually understand teamwork matters, and so use “team” where “group,” “bunch,” or “committee” might be more accurate.

For that matter, propagandists sometimes disparage team-ish collections of people who are aligned to a shared purpose the propagandist disagrees with by using terms like “crowd,” “gang,” or “mob” to deride them.

So if you ever read something about the “KJR crowd” to refer to those who don’t accept the notion of internal customers, you’ll know what’s going on. I haven’t, but I’d like to. Persecution is good publicity, after all.

Huh. I keep sliding away from the point. Let’s get back to it.

To be more exact than I usually am, all teams are groups, not all groups are teams. It’s a square/rectangle kind of thing.

What distinguishes teams from other groups is that they’re populated with people who both trust each other and are all trying to accomplish much the same thing.

Like, for example, the exact opposite of our current Congress … a point I make not to lose subscribers who are tired of my alleged political commentary but to illustrate with a well-known example. Once upon a time, most members of Congress really did share the common purpose of wanting to improve this country and really did trust each other to have this shared purpose, no matter how much they disagreed about how to improve things.

It’s an important distinction for all teams, whose members aren’t expected to agree with each other about everything, but whose members are expected to reach compromises they can all agree to.

While we’re at it, let’s look at other sorts of group that are common in business situations to see how and whether they should differ from teams.

Start with committees. As with teams, members of effective committees trust each other. Unlike teams, they generally lack a shared sense of purpose: Members of committees are there to represent their own team’s interests. See “Congress,” above, only with trust restored.

Then there are departments … under the best of circumstances, teams of teams. It’s an interesting dynamic. In a department, all members of all teams should share the department’s purpose — its charter and goals.

But individual members of one team need not trust individual members of other teams, not that this would be a problem if they did. But they do need to trust the other teams that make up the department taken as a whole.

Similar logic applies as you move up the organization, from departments to divisions, divisions to business units and so on.

So when an executive refers to the enterprise and everyone in it as a team, there are three possibilities.

One is that everyone does trust the parts of the organization they aren’t personally members of. The second is that the executive would like it if they did.

The third? A sports metaphor is in your future.

Trust me.