How would you describe the culture of your company?
Do you think your staff would describe your company culture similarly? It must be a priority to know if these descriptions are aligned. Take time to reflect and think about the culture that you and your team experience every day — and question whether it’s the culture that will deliver the outcomes you’re looking for.
Trust your core values, as they drive the culture in your company. Work to effectively communicate your values, be intentional in modeling them and create structures that allow your values to permeate all aspects of the company. Build processes that complement the values you expect to see, and be relentless in following through with implementing the values you want.
Clarify the common attributes you expect to see in your staff and commit to developing and hiring within this framework. Identify individuals who have high expectations for themselves and who welcome feedback for improvement. Seek people who are unafraid to question, committed to your organization’s vision, and sincere and mature in developing relationships.
Cultivate your team and visualize how the team will deliver excellence. Make time to plan and strategize, ensure voices are heard, cultivate individual and team learning, empower your people and build a culture of gratitude and trust.
Strong company culture is not an accident. It is intentional and disciplined work. When done well, it is transformative for your people and product.
Define your culture
When Kim Day and I founded Perspectives Charter Schools, we knew the outcomes we wanted. We wanted our high school graduates to be college-ready ethical leaders. We created a path to achieve this, which we call the 26 Principles of A Disciplined Life®. Everything we do aims to align with principles like “show gratitude,” “be reliable,” “challenge each other intellectually,” “demonstrate integrity” and “be open-minded.”
We need staff to strive to embody these and we need to model our 26 values ourselves.
If I expect my team to take responsibility for their actions, I must model this and own my mistakes as a leader. If I expect my team to communicate effectively, I need to demonstrate this value. Many leaders set expectations for their culture that they don’t or can’t live up to themselves. Don’t make that mistake. Model the work it takes to be the culture you expect — and then you will have the foundation for the culture you want.
Culture isn’t static — it is a living, breathing, changing thing.
As a leader, you have to lead with your head up.
You have to know how the rank and file feels about your leadership and the culture you are trying to cultivate. If you don’t, you could end up with an aimless culture that is the opposite of what you want.
Leading with your head up requires constant effort — but if you get it right, the payoff will be enormous. ●