How’s your Culture?
It’s a fashionable 21st century question. Culture is a conference buzzword, making for stimulating discussion, but little change. Culture is the most important aspect of building a successful and sustainable business, but most leaders don’t know how to lead with a culture first focus.
These three things will help you lead with a culture first focus and towards real change.
THE GUT-CHECK ASSESSMENT
Culture assessments are great tools for evaluating your culture. The best assessment, however, is the gut-check. This is asking yourself a set of culture based questions and choosing to be brutally honest, which isn’t easy. Studies show that people lie to themselves on average, 100 times per day. The truth hurts sometimes. “How is your culture?” is as personal a question as “How is your leadership?” If your culture isn’t good, your leadership isn’t good. It’s brutal, but true. If you want to be a great leader, you must know the truth of where you are—good and bad. So, as you answer these questions, don’t sugarcoat, don’t coddle, and especially don’t lie to yourself.
- Do you feel a tremendous sense of unity in your organization?
- Does everyone at your organization know your vision and goals?
- Are the people in your organization all working for the same common purpose?
- Do the people in your organization follow the same common values?
- Regarding information of vital importance, how is the communication at your organization?
- Do your employees tell you when and why morale is down?
- Do people pass blame or take responsibility at your organization?
- When conflict happens, do people handle it one-on-one or does it become a major ordeal?
- Where do you get most of your information about what’s happening “on the inside” of your organization?
After you’ve finished working through these questions, take a deep breath and ask, “Do I have a good or bad culture?” If you answered bad, let me assure you, you’re probably not as bad as you think you are. If you answered good, look for ways to become great. Always assess where you are, and don’t lie. Great cultures are built on truth.
IMPROVE YOUR LEADERSHIP
Leadership is a multidisciplinary. It’s a combination of character, art, science, and skill. Additionally, there’s no one-size-fits-all leadership approach. To have a great culture, you must be a great leader. You must be agile, but steady; bold, but not a bully; kind, but not a pushover; inspiring, but not enabling; humble, but confident; honest, but graceful; clear, but not too concise; passionate, but not overbearing. How you lead is how your people will follow. Your culture is the environment you create. Then, as more people join your organization, your culture becomes the environment you allow.
Values offer hope for better relationships, organization, and society. Without values, life has no value.
No leader becomes great by accident. You must work on skills, develop balance, increase knowledge, and allow your character, the person you’re meant to be, to come forward. Your culture depends on it.
VALUE YOUR VALUES ABOVE ALL
Freedom, justice, and peace are just a few values people have given their lives for. People value values more than life. Values are the quintessential aim. Values offer hope for better relationships, organization, and society. Withoutvalues, life has no value. So, it’s no surprise that the number one reason for culture problems is incongruency between what an organization says they value, and what they do. And once an organizations values lose meaning, they lose purpose, and every other problem ensues. You must value your values above all. Here are a few reasons why.
- Values value people
- Values create unity
- Values lead leaders
- Values create market value
- Values never fail
(For detailed breakdown see Creating Culture: The 5 Steps for a Fulfilling and Prosperous Organization)
Make it your mission each day to ensure your organization lives the values they espouse. If you do, you will set your environment towards cultural success.
Go beyond the cultural conversations and act. It is the application of our education that makes the biggest difference in our life, leadership, and culture. Bad cultures can become good, and good cultures can become great. And you’re the leader who can make it happen.
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