“Corporate.” “Casual.” “Friendly.” “Excellent.” “Ruthless.” Ever hear these words when someone was describing where he/she works? These are a sampling of cultural descriptors. Every organization, department, board, and even family has a culture – a unique climate created by the values and beliefs of either a founder or leader and maintained by the expectations and behaviors of the leader and members. The following are four ways you can shape the culture of your team or organization.
Culture is not so easy to understand, especially for those who are closest to it. To see culture more accurately, you need to seek input from both those within it as well as those who are more removed from it. Experienced consultants can utilize tools such as interviews, observation, and surveys to help you see your culture more accurately.
Every time someone is added to a team, board or organization, the culture will change. Make sure you add those who can contribute to the culture you desire. If you value collaboration and hire an autocrat, you will have a culture clash. Likewise, if you want high performance but hire a low energy member, the result may be frustration.
What leaders say and do will shape the culture for good or bad. In other words, the leader(s) shapes the culture by embedding his/her values. These include the leader’s mood, words, actions and inactions. Then the culture shapes everyone else. Leaders need to understand this, own this, and make sure others can speak truth to them without the fear of losing their heads!
Crises have a powerful impact on our culture. These can be crises outside the organization such as the 9/11 attack or the introduction of a new game-changing technology, or they can be a crisis inside the organization such as a moral failure. Any of these can result in deep change. While we cannot always prevent a crisis from happening, we can control how we manage our response.
For more learning on shaping your culture and navigating the challenges to leadership and organizational growth, order our new book GUIDE: Building the Team. Setting the Direction. Fulfilling the Mission.
Jay Desko is the Executive Director of The Center and serves on the Senior Leadership Team at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Jay brings experience in the areas of ministry assessment, leadership coaching, decision-making, and strategic questioning. Jay’s degrees include a B.S. in Bible, a M.Ed in Instructional Systems Design and a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and Leadership.