It takes 3 months to build a culture and 5 days to destroy it. Completely. Which path are you on?
I was running a workshop a few weeks ago to a group of new leaders, and boy, was I blow away by someone on my right hand side, who just ‘got it”. He had the great fortune to work in a great culture (a big company we would all know), and really understood what the component parts were to making that company (a) a great place to work and (b) super successful over a long period of time.
But how do you know whether you are on the right track or not?
Are you heading in the right direction, or just pissing people off because you are too slow, too unsure, and too “sitting on the fence”
Here’s a model that I use to help diagnose where a culture is at – and whether is it heading in the right or wrong direction.
At the beginning of the path to great…
- There is no interest in vision or mission
- People are doing their own thing
- People who are the best “liked” tend to win the day
- No-one really talks about results
- There is a lot of talk of busy-ness, but not much action that gets real results
- People are late for meetings/talk over each other
- Stress, overwhelm, fear
- Blame, denial, excuses
Obviously the point is, NOT to spend much time keeping the culture at the above level. Yucky, painful, fraught with indecision and VERY painful for the leader (s)
Half way through…
- First, fast followers are engaged in and living the vision/mission and values
- They are sharing the above with others
- Slowly others are starting to talk the same language
- Some people start to reference conversations back to objectives and results
- Feedback is given peer to peer around non-purpose driven conversations
- People who don’t want to be held accountable start to feel very uncomfortable and they start to make moaning noises.
- There is a sense of energy about the place – some of it turbulent, as it becomes clear what the expectations of each individual are
- The beginnings of accountability, responsibility and ownership
When you know you have really got the momentum going
- Results do the talking – everything else is just drivel
- People LOVE the accountability
- Everyone talks about the vision/mission and values with fervour. They tell everyone
- Clients want to come and work in your office
- Feedback is frequent and instant – everyone expects to give and get it
- The laggards have left
- The stories that people tell about working here easily form and everyone in the company can tell them
- You have created differentiation in your market, because culture can’t be copied.
The difference in leading teams from the first example and the last example is clear.
In the first example, most time is spent fire-fighting, dealing with emotionality and poor behaviour – plus dealing with dwindling results.
In the latter, we have a group of internally motivated, accountable individuals who are working together for the greater good as well as getting so much out of it personally.
Imagine which one you would prefer to be leading? What if….??
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