Words on paper have the power to inspire. But alone, they don’t always create a big enough “why.” Your mission statement, vision statement, values statement, and guiding principles aren’t where the real action is, as inspiring as the words may be.
Your mission statement, vision statement, values statement, or guiding principles have to be written instead on the hearts and minds of everyone in the organization. Words don’t make the culture. Actions make the culture.
If you want an organization that acts with integrity, you act with integrity. Integrity and honesty are tested when money is on the line. That’s when people know where you really stand. How you behave in those moments of decision is what wins hearts and minds. It’s what writes your beliefs on their hearts and minds.
If you want an organization that cares deeply for customers, you care deeply for customers. If you pretend your customers are your enemies, that they’re out to hurt you, or that they’re impossible to serve, you won’t write the words contained in your documents on hearts and minds.
Words on paper aren’t enough. You have to breathe life into them. You have to act in accordance with those words. You have to live the statements for the statements to be true, to be worth believing, to be worth adopting. Your culture is built on the stories and legends that become the company’s lore. You have to point at the people that live the principles every chance you get. And you have to repeat the principles with example after example of the actions that prove they’re good, and right, and true until they permeate the organization.
Culture is written on hearts and minds.