Archives For Behavior

We hear about viAlice_door copysion, mission statements and values often enough, but why are they so important? Similar to Alice unsuccessfully trying to open the door to Wonderland, you must have the right keys to shape your company’s culture and reflect what you stand for.  They are the essence of your identity as an organization – your principles, beliefs, philosophies… and how you do business. Woven into the fabric of its culture, every work environment should strive to encourage positive values and discourage negative influences that affect behavior and outcomes. We all possess a moral compass, defined via our values, which directs how we treat others and conduct ourselves. As an organization, this can be a powerful tool to shape culture. Ultimately, it does not come back to the company, but its people…

Arguably self-awareness and integrity are an important subset of values, but self-awareness and the pursuit of the truth are so important that they should be on every company’s list of values. If integrity is best described by C.S. Lewis as “doing the right thing, even when nobody is watching,” having the ability to be completely honest about your own strengths, weaknesses, and biases is critical. In developing an authentic, sustainable culture this applies not only to the leadership team, but to every single employee. Self-awareness and integrity are easy to lose… and hard to win back. When cultures are failing there are root causes that must be identified, but that can rarely be fixed quickly – and certainly not by policy and procedural changes. During challenging times, leaders tend want to drink from the blue bottle and — ta da! – see that the company culture is fixed. Unfortunately, building, evolving and transforming cultures takes both time and hard work.

Here are 6 core “keys” that will help you to build toward an amazing organizational culture:

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Slide1Creating a great company culture can feel like chasing the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole… everywhere you turn are examples of what happens when a company culture goes south. This is most often because companies often get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of running the business and forget the importance of creating a remarkable company culture.

Establishing a culture you believe in means having a clear and consistent vision and knowing how you’d like everyone, inside and outside the company, to view the organization. Many old-school executives often view the order of operations as Profit, Policy, Process… and then People. This is completely backwards – it’s people that make a business successful and people that create a culture. The greater the inclusion of people, the more significant the contributions made… which flows over to customer satisfaction – and increased revenue.

Similar to the conversation between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “if you don’t know where you want to go, then it doesn’t matter which way you go” – so it goes with culture. When you don’t have a clear vision, strategy and plan for execution it doesn’t matter who you hire or what you do – you will wander aimlessly, never arriving at your desired destination. If you have a vision without a strategy, or a strategy without a plan for execution, your corporate culture will fall right down that rabbit hole into Neverland… oops, I mean Wonderland!

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Building and maintaining a strong, resilient organizational culture is one of the few phenomena that is truly all inclusive. Creating a successful company ethos depends on the positive collision of the right people (at all levels) and the right context. But what does it actually take to create a sustainable, remarkable company culture? The answer is complex, so over the next two weeks, we will look at culture first from a larger organizational perspective… and then again at ground level.

“It’s complicated” … A common response to developing organizational culture.

The lack of a clear, simple response as to how to build and sustain organizational culture is the reason most companies don’t have a great culture. All leaders theoretically want a great culture… and believe, if they repeat it enough, it will magically happen. However, wanting an amazing corporate culture and being willing (and committed) to creating one are two vastly different things.

Why? It’s just not obvious how to create a great organizational culture. After helping many clients through this exact same challenge, we know that there are some critical components in developing and maintaining an exceptional company culture.

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A separate, but inter-related key to success lies within YOU.  In today’s complex global business environment, as a leader you are the driving force and the magnet that draws people in – someone who has the ability to lead, connect, and (most importantly)  to ignite a fire within the global workforce that will result in invaluable contributions that will drive personal development and organizational success to levels never anticipated or previously dreamed of.  You are a key resource to the organization, and as such, you need to understand that how you allow yourself to be leveraged as a resource directly correlates with the success of your global teams and organization.

How people perceive you, your words and actions, will define you across the globe. How you relate to people, from all cultures, will determine to a large extent, your ability to succeed. Do people from all cultures and geographies see you as an inspiration?  Someone to follow, someone to believe in, someone to trust? Are you a partner? Does your global team perceive that they are a critical component to your vision and direction? Our research tells us over and over again, that people follow those they trust and those they are inspired by.

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Of all the amazing experiences I have been so fortunate to have, across many different boundaries and borders, one of my very favorites is the unique opportunity I had to walk with lions in Zimbabwe.  While canoeing down the river Sabi (avoiding the hippos) was exciting, going on an elephant safari proved adventurous, swimming in The Devil’s Pool at the top of Victoria Falls was amazing and staying in the historic, luxurious Victoria Falls Hotel was, well… historic and luxurious, nothing compares to walking with lions. Many of you probably think I must be crazy – who wants to walk with wild lions? But this was a fascinating opportunity that offered many insights – and besides, how many chances do you get to walk with lions?

As I watched the lions approach, with only a walking stick in my hand and a pre-brief on lion behavior in my head, I wondered how I would engage these powerful creatures and what I could learn from them…

Here is just a bit of what I was reminded of through my encounter with the lions:

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In today’s competitive environment most of us work across borders of one kind or another, but for me it is at the core of what I do… who I am.

The reality is that we live in a global economy – with instantaneous communication, online connectivity, unlimited tools, and the ability to see and interact with people on the other side of the world. You have to pause and ask yourself – how hard can it be to interact successfully with supervisors, subordinates, suppliers, customers, and/or partners from around the world? As it turns out, a whole lot harder than it looks…

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From personal experience, I can tell you that helping people accelerate as effective leaders in a global economy is complex… and critically important. Continue Reading…