# 1 – If You Don’t Know Where You Are At… Understanding yourself completely is the first step to accelerating your personal and leadership development. Knowing what skills to focus on is essential to successful development.
# 2 – Create Superpowers Strength-based development means selling out to developing your strengths into superpowers. You are better off creating a leadership superpower than fixing a weakness.
# 3 – Practice & Reflection Cycles When you combine reflection and evaluation of your practice, you will have a fail-safe way to learn, grow and change! Reflection focuses your brain to see and evaluate what you did.
Three New Ideas
This month, I want to discuss the leadership challenge of intentionally creating a culture. Most leaders let culture develop on its own and don’t try to form it. You may be wondering what the other option is.
# 1 – Making Declarations Is Not Enough
Making a declaration is a great way to lead and start the change process. However, if you only make a declaration and expect your culture to change, you will be disappointed. Recently, one CEO told his company they would need to return to their offices for at least 50% of their time. He suggested this split was so that people could have flexibility. How they determined what 50% looks like was up to them. He just wanted them to be “interacting, building & strengthening relationships, debating topics, socializing, discussing strategy & projects… It’s about productive human interaction…”
You can imagine the blowback he received. Declarations are about the future, what is going to change, and why we need to make the change. They are often met with some form of resistance. They need to be made in a powerful and prolific way. However, if they are not supported by other managers/leaders in the organization and don’t have any follow-up, they will fall apart (sometimes quickly). People ascertain how committed you are to your declaration based on what you and others do after your declaration.
Ask Yourself: What declaration do I need to make to initiate a process to improve our culture?
# 2 – New or Revised Cultures Need Behavioral Expectations
So, what is a leader to do? Repeating the declaration is a good idea. The old saying that people need to hear something seven times before they fully ‘get it’ is directionally correct. However, people need more than that; they need to know exactly why they are doing something new, what it looks like when it is done well, and how it will benefit them.
Given the back-to-work declaration example I have been using, the leader could have said – “I want you to come back in the office and create better ways to work together – find ways to collaborate on more projects, use each other to make better decisions and solve problems… I want to hear examples of how your teams are organizing themselves better to be more productive, what you have done to improve communication, reduce conflicts, and work more efficiently… Don’t just return to the office and keep doing what you have always done – create the best working environment we have ever had.”
Ask Yourself: Given the change I want to create, what specific behavioral expectations do I want to share?
# 3 – Culture Change Requires Consistent Positive Reinforcement
It’s critical to role model behaviors and to “catch people doing things approximately right,” as Ken Blanchard wrote many years ago in the One Minute Manager. In other words, don’t wait for people to be perfect before recognizing them. Out of frustration, many leaders find themselves becoming the change police and continuously searching for those who are in non-compliance. If the culture supports those not doing what you asked, you have to tip the scales toward those trying to do the right thing.
Repeated, positive recognition is much more powerful than negative reinforcement. At least initially, those who are making changes and trying to be different should get the majority of your focus. Your engaged team members need reinforcement to keep doing the right things. Pour it on them. Make them your poster children for the new culture and tell their story a lot. To intentionally drive your culture (or sub-culture) in the direction you want to go, you need to provide consistent positive reinforcement.
Ask Yourself: How can I use positive recognition to reinforce the culture I want?
Want to Know More?
- The Three Guiding Principles for Creating An Intentional Culture – by Dave Fechtman CEO of Velocity Group Forbes Jan. 26, 2018
- 9 Keys to Driving Cultural Change by David Shedd Wharton Magazine July 5, 2011