People often remark on the number of rules in BNI. It’s true: there are a lot of rules. But these rules were created by the members, and these are the rules that BNI needs to be a successful organization. Rules exist to support a process to help a group achieve success. Successful people put systems in place to help them achieve results. BNI achieves its results because of the structure, not in spite of it.
In applying the rules of BNI, we need to be caring. The rules are not meant to be punitive. Hold members accountable in a supportive way. The leadership team should ask members what they can do to help a member bring about the necessary changes.
If you’re not sure why policies need to be applied consistently, watch this video:
Share your own insights about BNI’s rules in the comments below.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Comnplete Transcript of Episode 459 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you and where are you?
Hi Priscilla. I am still in Italy. Today, I am in Rome meeting with BNI members and Directors. Italy is fantastic. The members and Directors here are incredible. I am so excited to be here for the first time ever for BNI, for me visiting Italy. So it is really fantastic.
Sounds great. So tell us a little bit about what is this Rules, Rules, Everywhere a Rule?
Rules, Rules, Everywhere a Rule. So I kind of came up with it- I am a 70’s kid. I went to high school in the early 70’s and there was a song called “Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign” by the Five Man Electrical Band. It’s a great little rock song. So this kind of came as a result of that phrase “signs, signs, everywhere a sign.
It’s, you know, with BNI because I hear people say that BNI has a lot of rules. Rules, rules, you know. BNI has all these rules.
So let me address that. Yeah. We do have rules. We do. I believe we have the rules we need to run a successful networking organization. By the way, I know I have said this before on other podcasts. All the member rules were created or approved by the members, through our International Board of Advisors, which is made up of members all over the world, including Italy, where I am at now. Members created all of our guidelines and policies.
I can tell you that having had hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs meeting every week all over the world, it’s a little bit like herding cats. Business people hate rules. I get that. But rules serve a purpose. Hockey without rules would be boxing on ice. BNI without rules would be a coffee club without tables.
Rules exist to support a process and a structure to help the team achieve the results that they are striving for. If you want to run a successful weekly networking program, there has to be a structured system in place.
Through my book, Masters of Success, we interviewed a lot of highly successful people and one of the consistent themes expressed by the individuals we interviewed was that successful people put systems in place to help them achieve results.
BNI is a system. When it is done right right, it yields amazing results. It does so because of the structure, not in spite of the structure. I think the application of the rules is worth further discussion, though. I am a firm believer in following a system and a process, i.e., our policies. But we don’t have to apply the policies like a fascist. That’s really important.
We don’t have to apply the policies like a fascist. Some might think I am saying sometimes that it is okay to look the other way, but I am not. I am not saying that at all. I am saying that we have to practice tough love. We need to be caring, truly caring about the way we apply our structure and our system. We need to me more like Mandela than Musselini.
Instead of telling people that you are doing something wrong and are going to be removed, I suggest the chapter leadership be clear that a change is necessary and then ask that member, “How can we help you achieve that goal?” How can we help you achieve that.
I am telling you, that is a very effective technique. Don’t accept less. Hold the member accountable in a caring and supportive way but accountable nonetheless.
Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option? Excellence is an option in BNI and we can achieve that option through tough love in a group. By the way, if you think leadership is too tough or too lenient, volunteer for a spot on the leadership.
Being caring and requiring accountability are skills that really take time to master. Help your leadership team by supporting them in doing what needs to be done, volunteering on that level. Criticizing without supporting is destructive. Supporting without criticizing is constructive.
So support your chapter by- if you feel that you can practice tough love but really have accountability, then you volunteer to be on the leadership team. By the way, I think sometimes people come across as being negative on the leadership team because they are uncomfortable. You know, particularly when things are said trying to be humorous, it comes across as sarcastic. Sometimes when a leadership team says something too aggressively, it’s because they are nervous talking to a peer and trying to hold them accountable.
So give them some grace and work with your leadership teams to learn how to practice this tough love and to be consistent in the application of policy. It is really important to be consistent in the way policy is applied.
I am going to include a link here on this podcast, Priscilla. You haven’t seen it yet. I am asking everyone to take a look at this short video. It’s about fairness. It’s absolutely hysterical.
It is hysterical. It is right on the mark for the rest of my discussion here on this podcast. The video is a great example of why policies need to be applied consistently. Now, the video is about capuchin monkeys, and people aren’t capuchin monkeys, but I would argue that people respond to inconsistent rules in the same way that these monkeys do. They get really, really mad. You’ve got to watch the video. I’ll include the link. It’s fantastic.
If your group is not following the program, my advice is to start fresh. Come clean. Tell everyone you recognize that the group isn’t following the system. It might be the reason that your group isn’t achieving the success that you would like to achieve. Tell them in order for your group to achieve the success that they want to achieve, you are going to turn the ship and start following the process.
More importantly, you are going to do it with a supportive attitude. Be there for those who really need and want help. Bring in your local Director, your BNI Director, to help you make that transition. Even if you are in a great group, your BNI Director can help you achieve even greater success.
Above all, consistently hold your members accountable in a caring way.
You’ll love this, Priscilla. Every now and then, you will hear someone from another networking organization say, “We are BNI without the rules.” I love those organizations. I love those organizations because I think let the hickey boxing begin!
The rules, when they are applied with caring and support, are the reason that we have thousands of chapters in dozens of countries around the world. It is the rules when a applied in a caring way that create the system and the process and then yield the results. If you don’t have the rules, you are not going to play the game right and you are not going to be successful.
That is everything I have, Priscilla, unless you have a question for me.
I don’t have a question. I just want to say that my personality style does not make me a good membership team member.
Are you too aggressive?
No, it is the opposite. I hate having to deal with all the bickering and so forth. I just hated it.
Listen, I get that. You have to have a lot of patience. But let me tell you something. I am not a patient person. I’m really not. It took a lot and I am still probably not the most patient person in the world. But it took a lot of training, a lot of practice, a lot of mistakes for me to learn how to shut up and listen.
Yeah, that is hard to do.
And to let people vent. I am a real believer and I know I have talked about this in previous podcasts. My mom gave me a paperweight as a young man. I have it sitting here on my desk. “Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.”
If you really want to guide other successful people, you have to do it in a way that is caring, focused and diplomatic. If you do that, you achieve amazing results. Hopefully, this Rules, Rules, Everywhere a Rule will help you understand why they are important and would make a great discussion.
I would love to hear your comments here on BNI Podcast, so if you have a comment, leave it and share this with your chapter members. Thanks, Priscilla.
Okay, thank you, Dr. Misner. Well, I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.