Episode 18- Culture- This week we are going to begin a series about “Culture”. We will start with the story of the 100 MPH goat. We will define what a culture is and who shapes it. Lastly, we will describe the consequences of a weak culture in any organization and how it can be like a celebrity hotel room.
For more on this subject, please listen to E7- “Living the Values”-The Springer Theatre Academy, The Sea of Galilee and Aligned Decisions
As a leader, I bet one of the things you struggle with is commitment. When I say commitment, I mean having team members that are “all in”. You have some people on your team that are clearly holding back or doing their own thing.
How do you get people to commit to you, the work, the organization and to each other?
The answer is quite simple. Leaders create commitment when they craft a strong culture.
What is culture? Culture is the set of formal and informal social norms that dictate how people operate in a particular setting. Culture answers two questions 1. What is acceptable and rewarded here? 2. What is not acceptable and gets punished here?
In other words, culture allows people to self-direct the right behaviors that get the desired results of the business. Culture is not a set of goals and objectives. Goals and objectives are what you what to accomplish…our results. Goals change.
Culture is about how people treat each other and how people treat customers and clients. That is enduring.
Who shapes the culture? It is the leader’s job to shape culture. They shape it when they create a clear description of what they want the culture to look like and when their actions and decisions match their words.
Leaders need to be aware of how important it is for them to craft the culture they want intentionally. Without an intentional culture, people just do what works regardless of whether is right or not.
In cases where there is no culture guiding people to own the bigger picture, people act like with a short-term mindset. They do what they want. They treat the business like they have no ownership and people act like a bunch of celebrities that just checked into a shiny new hotel room with a fifth of Jack Daniels.
Without strong messaging from the leadership of an organization, leaders at each level of the company begin to define their own subculture in their part of the business. This is going to happen to some degree anyway, but when there is no strong central rudder people install their own culture so they can keep on sailing. And when that happens you have strong subcultures that begin to dominate the larger corporate culture. Behaviors become inconsistent and conflicting.
So what happens in an organization with a culture weak? Two things… 1)People don’t act. 2) People act with blatant self-interest.
With a strong culture, the problems of inaction and self-interest are managed. A strong culture cures inaction and brings our self-interested nature in check and make us accountable to behave more collectively. Culture creates commitment and not just involvement.
“A leader creates an atmosphere for growth and feels an obligation to create a culture that has pride, confidence, fairness service and creativity at the heart of its philosophy. Most people hate work but love accomplishment. The goal of the leader is cooperation, not coercion. Communication is essential to creating such a culture.” –A Journey Towards Servant Leadership by Bill Turner.