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The Leadership Playbook: Culture Makes It Better Inside Than Out

Culture is made up of what your company is on the inside. It is critical that what you are on the inside is different than what is outside.

Outside: Outside, your people are bombarded daily with negative messages. The news and their social feeds are predominately negative. Your people are continually barraged with news stories designed to create fear and angst and unrest. The talk of recessions persists years after a recession ended. Stories of loss open every newscast, regardless of medium.

Inside: You have to have a message that inoculates the people you lead from negativity. Your message has to be optimistic and future-oriented. Inside has to be a place where people feel safer than they feel on the outside. Hope, promise, and possibility needs to live inside your four walls.

Outside: Your people are told that they’re not good enough, that they are somehow broken. They are told that they can’t be more, do more, have more, or contribute more. They are messaged by marketers in ways that drive them to feel as if they are inadequate and incomplete.

Inside: Inside, you must have a message to contradict and counteract these infections. A leader sees something in the individuals they lead that they don’t see in themselves, and makes it visible. They see something in a team that the team doesn’t see and brings it to light. A leader sees something in a company that the organization can’t yet see, not only making it visible, making it possible.

It has to better inside your company than it is outside. You have to create greater certainty and greater psychological safety. You have to create a sense of community and belonging that no longer exists in neighborhoods. You have to help enable a sense of meaning and purpose that some of your people won’t bring with them, and many won’t find outside.

No one knows if Drucker really said “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If he didn’t, I believe he would support the statement—and its ramifications for leaders.

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