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On Leaders and Culture

Culture is what takes over when leadership and management isn’t around.

Culture is what takes over in those moments of truth, when a decision makes a difference–for good or for ill.

Culture is what happens when the organization’s real values are brought to life in the actions and behaviors individuals take when they are challenged and aren’t directed to do something.

Culture is what the company belives about itself–individually and collectively. Culture is identity.

A leader creates, nurtures, and protects a healthy culture. A healthy culture is built on caring.

A leader may also create, nuture, and protect an unhealthy, diseased culture. Unhealthy cultures are built on fear.

When a leader doesn’t create, nuture, and protect a healthy culture, an unhealthy culture can take root and grow on its own. A leader has to pull out by its roots any threat to the culture.

When a culture is strong and healthy, a leader doesn’t need to remove the threats. Culture is self-policing. A strong, healthy culture rejects anyone and anything that undermines their positive values and sense of identity. But a weak, diseased culture destroys anything that tries to change or improve it–especially when it means giving up a diseased mindset.

Establishing culture is the leader’s duty. Culture is purpose; it’s meaning. And it’s the area where a leader can make the biggest difference to company’s results–it determines who the organization is, what it stands for, and breathes life into it’s purpose.

Questions

What is culture?

What is the role of the leader when it comes to culture?

What does a healthy culture enable?

What makes a culture unhealthy?


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Comments

comments

  • Joe Nunes

    I couldn’t agree more – 15 years ago we started as a ‘one man shop’. As we have grown to a dozen people there have been countless opportunities to talk about how we do things. Much of this is now written down.

    From the other direction I am now facing a new round of questions from newer members of the team on why we do what we do and whether we should change. While I am always open to change, one of the challenges I now face is protecting the culture that we have against ‘flavor of the month’ whims.



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