When Culture Comes Like a Thief in the Night

Isai Ramos — Unsplash.com

Your corporate culture can be a productivity thief in the night. Huh? Why? Because your culture comes from what you and your people play out, reward and tolerate- plain and simple as that. If you’re not attending to your flock’s culture, it’s only a matter of time until they’ll divide and respond to adversity as self-preserving individuals and groups. Their behaviors emanating from fear and mistrust, will take root and prevail, and damn, if they don’t perpetuate a self-fulfilling and fear based cultural prophecy of my team, my job instead of our teams, our jobs, our customers. And guess what always takes a backseat to self-preservation? Excellence and Productivity. Lost, stolen from what could have been.

Marc Rafanell Lopez — Unslpash.com

On the flipside, a great corporate culture, however it’s defined and uniquely played out by it’s people, can happen by accident. And it can even exist for a time. Its people will jump through fire together. However, to preserve it and put it to scale, that requires being purposeful and committed to making it a priority, where everyone is subject to, and responsible for it.

I love Jeff Weiner’s perspective on culture, where behavioral aspirations get codified of collectively what kind of organization you want to be part of, and you must walk the walk. Everyone must. Otherwise, the whole culture gets undermined. Two critical elements matter:

1, that the leadership not violate the culture with their behaviors,

2, that leadership not tolerate their people violating the culture with their behaviors.

Though this seems rather obvious, it’s surprising how often leaders fail at this. By the way, I highly recommend the inLearning: Jeff Weiner on Establishing a Culture and a Plan for Scaling.

So, how do you accomplish this? To be purposeful, you might want to dedicate a person as culture shepherd and peacemaker. You might be asking why a shepherd? And peacemaker? Don’t I need a Culture Sheriff who will just police the bad stuff away? Well, that might be a misplaced focus. You’ll simply get what you focus upon and you’ll be really good at stopping the bad. But that is not the same thing as focusing upon and creating the healthy or good. That’s where the shepherd/peacemaker qualities are key to keeping the healthy culture in focus and as the priority as you scale.

Blessed is the shepherd for she shall watch over, guide, nurture and protect the culture.

The courageous and steady bad-ass, that’s the Shepherd.

Think about it, she’s humble. She aspires to provide healthy and positive environment for the flock to flourish, guiding them to stay together. At the same time, she watches diligently to immediately fight off the wolf for the flock’s protection and without hesitation. She loves her flock. But it’s the wolf inside that’s way more dangerous than the wolf outside. She knows what the healthy flock looks and behaves like and can see the smallest fear responses that need to be tended to. In her efforts she must not create a fear as she keeps the wolves inside the flock at bay. She knows that fear is kinetic and can spread and drive the flock towards unsafe boundaries and homes the flock to its flourishing space. That’s why we need shepherds.

How often have you felt at risk in your work world? What if you’re able to catch and redirect your flock before it left the boundaries of high productivity.

The Shepherd:

  1. loves her flock
  2. always listens and observes
  3. creates safety
  4. protects the flock from inside & outside threats
  5. is approachable, humble & courageous

Blessed is the peacemaker for she shall bring her people together in compassion to go forth and prosper.

Then there’s the Peacemaker.

She invites and calls adversaries to curiosity’s common table, where each get’s heard. Her compassion and presence for each quells hostile emotions. She picks up on and cuts to the emotional root of the conflict in light of their common goal for inspired realignment. In the safety of peacemaking, with weapons set aside both can recommit to move forward together.

Let’s just face it, we are people and we get into conflicts. Show me a workplace that doesn’t have daily conflicts and I’d put odds that it’s not innovative, progressing or growing. All three of those things require change and that means you’re doing something different than what somebody else was comfortable with. We get caught up in our own agendas. We simply might disagree. We step on each other’s toes, sometimes we’re jerks, and when were in a fearful state, we perceive the most innocent of actions as threatening. Oh, wait a minute, that sounds like any business.

It makes me think of Fred Kofman’s somewhat ironic quote, “Every conflict happens in the context of collaboration.” And, when we’re fighting inside the flock instead of resolving conflicts, we’re not fighting the competition or for our customers. It’s natural for conflicts to happen. Our companies have individuals and groups with different ideas as they pursue the supposed common goal of the company. We get caught up in our tasks and if others get in our way, they’re the problem. And that emotionally unresolved problem is tomorrow’s wolf waiting to pounce. That’s why we need peacemakers.

How often do you go, “ugh…” about a member of your flock- when you hear his voice or see him, the meeting alert with him pops up? Have you considered that the interruptions from crappy relationships happen more often and cost more than social media distractions?

The Peacemaker:

  1. reveals common ground between 2 conflicting sides
  2. withholds judgment and instead, applies a curious mindset
  3. deescalates hostile emotions with presence & compassion
  4. builds relationships
  5. is approachable & inspires re-alignment

What culture do you want?

Do you want a culture where your people work together with a drive and commitment to each other to get great work done. Where they challenge, and at the same time, support each other in their efforts to be awesome?

Be prepared to recreate a continual state of shepherding, peacemaking and realigning. Get with your people and define what kind of company culture you want to be as you grow. What values and behaviors would paint that picture? Then find someone with shepherding peacemaker abilities that fits with it and have them get the flock out there and attend to it.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. If you found this article helpful, please share it. I’d really appreciate that.

Have a great day and keep making our work world a better, more productive and happier place. Paul

#culture #leadership #compassion #productivity


Originally published at www.heartbasedleading.com.