Is It Possible to Unlock the Power of Culture?

“If leaders really want people to show up, speak out, take chances and innovate, we have to create cultures where people feel safe—where their belonging is not threatened by speaking out and they are supported when they make decisions to brave the wilderness, stand alone, and speak truth to bullshit.”- Brené Brown, from Braving the Wilderness

Last time I checked, organizations and people in them have the opportunity to determine how they should assess, design, build and influence their cultures. If they don’t, one will evolve for them. It’s only a matter of time before leaders leading with a 40-plus year old model that no longer works are viewed as financially and morally negligent as serious consequences unfold and increase in frequency and severity. Just as important, however, is the climate in which the employee population follows the systems, structures, standards, tools, procedures, and more. As the environment internally and externally imposes it’s natural will, the organization will find making change difficult, at best, to improve the way it operates and solve problems.

Two sides of every coin – the leader and the employee. Both have a vested interested in making a contribution to the overall success of an organization. Both have vary different paths of getting there.

Yes, it is possible to unlock the power of culture for good and we all have a role to play in making this happen. Each one of us are response-able in our ‘own lane’. We are all constructively influencing culture in a way that aligns with our personal and shared values or we are blithely unaware that a culture will impose it’s own will while we forefit our role in influencing it as leaders across an organization. One or the other will take shape!

When we’re influencing a leader to influence their culture, we’re also influencing the leader as husband, wife, son, daughter, parent and so on. You cannot have one without the other! It’s an invaluable first step in connecting a personal transformation to culture transforMOTION. It is as simple, powerful, and practical to make a decision to to start or do more, to do less and stop doing stuff that sabotages personal joy, happiness and fulfillment. It also influences the joy, happiness and fulfillment of those who work with you. [dramatic music plays and crescendos as a tiny beam of light appears upon the horizon, glowing ever brighter until an explosion of immense proportions]…too much?

Let’s talk real problems and real solutions. How often do you hear the following:

“My people aren’t doing what I need them to do.”

“We have a strategy but it’s not getting done.”

“We need a strategy but no one even agrees what strategy is.”

“We need to change and everyone is resisting.”

I’m going to let you in on a secret…what do you notice in ALL FOUR statements? What we have here is an EGO problem. Now, you may have caught yourself saying it and may not necessarily mean it. I’m not letting you off the hook either. The underlying root cause is YOU want something from someone that you’re not getting. The reason for YOU not getting what YOU want is…you. Sadly, the mirror doesn’t lie. Where we go in many cases involving Culture, Change and Strategy is to the heart of the issue. Why the method works so well is we move people like this example from a head persona to a reframed heart persona. It’s how you were made, how you were designed and you cannot escape it; fruitless to try.

You’re very smart, intelligent and can run circles around many professionals and executives with one exception – your ‘method’ isn’t sustainable – which is why YOU move from one organization to another…you have to. In some cases, you’re told to. I worked with three CEO’s in one culture project over a 24-month period. All three were asked to leave, and all three had EGO issues. They were all different, and to varying degrees, but the assumptions and perceptions of the employees were all the same. They had weak or very little trust and respect for each one. Why? They all looked out for themselves first and everyone else second. This is leading with head knowledge. People were output!

The way to unlock the Power of Culture and make it a sustainable Competitive Advantage is through people. If you don’t understand people, then you don’t understand business. You can have all the head knowledge, case study and white paper expertise known to man from the best B-schools in the world, but if you don’t adopt a mindset of learning how to work with others to leverage a higher reason than pay-for-performance, you’re screwed…eventually. Have you noticed how children have grown up through the education system over the last two decades – the increase in violence, discord and conflict?

The root cause, backed by scientific studies from American Medical Journal and Psychology Today, is how we treat one another at work. [NOTE: there’s literally 70-plus articles I can point you towards; go do your own research or better yet ask your grown children if you can handle the truth]. We bring home our stress and impose it on our children without even knowing it. Is it any wonder, the two most current generations cannot stand/don’t respect the Boomer generation? We drove them to this place, forced them to adapt while leaders abdicated as parents, supervisors and mentors. They asked for guidance and we ignored them giving them technology as a surrogate. You think it’s the millennials fault?

The majority of them are a product of our own dysfunction. Own it. Do something about it, make amends, step up and lead; it’s never too late! Guess what peeps? The bill has come due; time to pay the Piper. What we do is give leaders at any level of an organization or private-enterprise three entry points to test what works in their unique situation. If you want to read more, then go here.

If you’re head’s nodding and you think it makes sense to have a conversation, go here. I don’t sell what I do. It your problem is great enough where you’re willing to change, chances are you’ll be very successful. If you’re okay with where you are, or you think it’s not that bad, then you’re not ready and chances are you’d quit because the road may be too difficult for you.

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