Are you in control of your Company or Team culture?

January 3, 2018
by Tom Fox

Larry Bossidy is a world-famous Strategy Consultant and in his book, "Execution" he defines culture as, "The behaviors leaders exhibit and the behaviors leaders tolerate."

I love this quote because nearly every manager has experienced people who have acted or behaved in ways that were not consistent with the values or mission of their company - and too often that behavior was tolerated. Think about your team...are there folks whose behavior is not where you want it? Is it tolerated? Are some of these folk’s top performers? Did it seem easy to overlook this behavior because they achieved results? What impact does this negative behavior have on your team's culture?

Important questions to ponder for sure. It's my opinion this behavior was tolerated because your team or company hasn't fully activated your company Vision, Mission and Values. Your firm may have these "guidance" statements, but are they activated? PLEASE don't assume that just because you have these statements, that they define your culture. It may not, and if it doesn't, you're likely tolerating behavior you shouldn't.

We define leadership as the following 3 obligations: 1) Execute your company’s Vision, Mission and Values, 2) Drive top level performance and, 3) Develop people's capabilities. Most managers naturally gravitate to #2, Managing Performance. Since most senior executives typically focus on the latest results, that becomes your culture. Don't let that happen (or change it immediately if that’s what is happening)!!

It requires significant effort to change or shape your culture to equal what your Vision, Mission and Values demand. The only way I know how to start this important process is to communicate (2-way) these guidance statements to every member of the team...and do it FREQUENTLY. Involve your team in this discussion. Ask them the following questions:

A. Why do you think we have a Vision, Mission and Values?

B. What words in our Vision, Mission, and Values stand out to you? Why do you think those words were chosen?

C. What would it look like for us to "live" this internally and externally?

D. Can you buy into these statements? E. Last (and most important), Can you see yourself living this?

The amount of exposure and communication of your Vision, Mission and Values to your team needs to be frequent and inter-active. Only then will you have a fighting chance each team member understands their role. Plus, they'll understand that your ongoing coaching is purposely focused on developing their capabilities / behavior to meet these high standards. Coaching and correcting behavior won't be emotional or stressful, it will be expected by your team and understood. Plus, you'll see positive momentum in terms of results.

Begin NOW and don't tolerate anything less...your culture depends on it.

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Tom Fox talks about preparation. Don't get too comfortable out there and remember that a little preparation goes a long way!

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