It's no secret that an unhealthy culture will hold you back while a healthy one will propel you forward.
The people who achieve the most, the teams who win the most, and the organizations that make the most significant impact almost always have one thing in common—a healthy culture! It's no secret that an unhealthy culture will hold you back while a healthy one will propel you forward. But it's easier said than done.
My leadership journey has taken me in and out of healthy and unhealthy cultures. Early on, I didn't buy into the idea that culture can hold me back. I believed my drive alone could overcome any environmental constraint. No matter how hard I tried, my energy, focus, and determination weren't enough.
It didn't take long for me to compare and contrast what worked and what didn't. My contributions weren't enough to overcome a culture that was ultimately holding me back. And this has proven true in every organization I’ve had the opportunity to lead. Whether it was a church, a college within a University setting, or a University at large, the first thing I dug into was the culture. I knew if I started there, then I had a fighting chance of releasing the full potential of the people within that organization.
YOU BUILD A WINNING CULTURE BY DOING THREE THINGS VERY WELL
Active listening. This demonstrates how much you value people. People don’t care what you can do for them until they know you appreciate what they can do for you.
Honest conversation. This reinforces that diversity of thought is vital, valued, and essential. When you engage in active dialog with people, you learn more about them than you ever could through any self-assessment or diagnostic process. You'll also gain the opportunity to win their trust which is a game changer.
Consistent follow through. This aligns your words and your actions. Trust is just the beginning. If you follow through on what you said you were going to do consistently, you’ll gain integrity which will inspire others to do the same.
BUT WHAT IF YOU’RE CULTURE ISN’T A WINNING ONE RIGHT NOW?
That's fair. Every person and every organization is on a journey toward health. It just depends on if you are moving forward, sideways, or backward. No matter where you are in your journey, you can and should invest in building a winning culture.
If you know your culture needs a turnaround, make these key moves immediately:
Acknowledge the gap. It’s so much easier to deal with reality once it’s spoken. Until then, it’s just speculation and intuition.
Commit to a framework process. Invite people to journey with you. If they get a sense of ownership, they’ll become part of the solution.
Start at the top. So many times the changes are focused on the lowest common denominator. If you want to change the culture, it starts with the leader and team at the top.
Every leader has the responsibility to create a winning culture. It’s the most important investment of time, energy, and effort that you’ll ever make. No matter what happens in the economy, your marketplace, or even in your community, without a winning culture you’ll never realize your full potential.