“A remarkable culture is a place where people: believe the best in one another, want the best for one another, and expect the best from one another.”
This quote from Dr. Randy Ross, in his book Relationomics, is one of my favorite definitions of culture.
How true is this of your team?
Is your team a place where people:
Believe the best in one another
Want the best for one another
Expect the best from one another
If I had to guess, your answers are probably pretty mixed. You might have pockets of this. Some team members believe the best in one another. Some want the best for one another. Some expect the best from one another. But it’s likely that this is inconsistent, which by the way is not necessarily an indication that your culture is terrible… it’s just a reminder that this goal of creating an extraordinary culture takes effort and time.
And it doesn’t happen by accident.
And that’s what I want you to be aware of. Your culture matters and, you as the leader, are responsible for it.
Great culture is not hard to spot. Think of your favorite places to shop, your favorite brands and products, your favorite places to relax and hang out. Odds are these products and environments have something in common – they engage you. It could be the energy, the atmosphere, the quality, attitudes of the people or any combination of the above.
I deeply believe that the culture of your organization matters. It matters for the people you’re trying to reach. It matters for the people you are trying to lead whether they are staff or volunteers. And frankly, it matters to you. Your life is too sacred to squander in an organization that drains the life out of you.
Culture matters. The environment you create in your organization is either attracting or repelling. There is rarely (I might say never) a middle ground. And as leaders we set the tone for the culture. We have to own it. We have to steward it. We have to set it, and we have to maintain it.
Curating culture is some of the most important work you will do as a leader but oftentimes it’s the thing we take the most for granted. Plagued by goals to achieve, staff to manage, ministries to run and Board members to make happy, the last thing we have time for is the proverbial “fluffy” stuff.
I believe we are entering an era of leadership that makes culture more important than ever. Employees are eager to be a part of cultures that align with their values and beliefs. They don’t want to just work to make a living. They want to work to make a difference. In today’s culture work and life collide like never before. Our entire world is at our fingertips and, as such, we’re connected and available to one another all the time. And while there are certainly some downsides to our hyper-connectedness, this is our new reality. Because of that, it stands to reason that if our worlds are so integrated, we better make sure they are worlds we really want to be a part of.
Consciously or not, you know that culture matters. In strong cultures you’re motivated, energized, engaged and fully committed. In bad cultures you lack motivation, are drained of energy, disengaged and always looking for a way to escape.
Research tells us that a STRONG and HEALTHY CULTURE leads to greater employee engagement and more growth for your organization. And yet, while 90% of leaders believe that an engagement strategy will have an impact on their success, only 25% of them actually have a plan.
Do you have a plan for your culture this year?
6 Reasons to Be Intentional About Culture
- The work we do really is all ABOUT people and FOR people. No matter what type of organization you’re a part of – whether you provide a service or deliver a product, people are a part of the equation. The first group of people we’re responsible for is our staff. How we treat them directly impacts how they serve our customers or congregants.
- Purpose matters now more than ever. Great cultures are built on a clear sense of purpose. Employees want to know that what they are doing matters. I think it has mattered to every generation of leaders but Millienials and Gen Z, unlike their predecessors, are willing to sacrifice income and some luxuries to be a part of something with meaning. If you don’t connect people to purpose, you’ll lose them.
- Remote work is here to stay. This dynamic is radically impacting team culture. In the past, culture was often easier to “catch” because everyone clocked in and clocked out at the same time every day. We shared space in a sea of cubicles, and the water cooler or break room was where friendships and alliances were formed. Culture was shaped at the water cooler. With the advent of flexible schedules and remote work, the responsibility is even greater for us to define and create a consistent culture.
- Longevity pays off. The average worker today stays just 4 years in a job and this stat has been on the decline for younger workers. In order to attract and retain great people (and save the money that the revolving door costs your organization) you must create a culture that compels them to stay.
- Navigating change requires great culture. The pace of change is faster than ever before. This means your team needs to be able to react and respond quickly. Strong cultures are more nimble. Because they trust one another, they can move more quickly together.
- Great culture multiplies. As you create great culture with your team, they in turn will create great culture with their teams. As goes the leader, so goes the team. You need to intentionally build what you want to reproduce.
Remember that leadership shapes human lives and, for that, it is sacred work. Culture is all about people. It’s the uniqueness of each of us contributing to live out a purpose. Slow down to see people and then inspire them to be the best possible culture they can be. Everyone wants to be a part of something great, they just need a leader to lead them to it.
My friend (and brilliant leader) Alli Worthington and I are preparing to guide another group of women through a 6-month Women in Leadership Intensive. It begins in February, and the space is filling up fast! While I don’t exclusively coach women, I am passionate about the transformation that takes place during these intensives–where we provide practical steps, challenging and relevant development, and the opportunity to connect with other like-minded leaders. If you are a woman in leadership, we’d love to have you join us. If you lead alongside a woman and want to encourage her that she is seen and what she uniquely deals with matters to you, be sure to pass along this opportunity.
This week on The Jenni Catron Leadership Podcast…
As leaders, it’s often up to us to prioritize objectives for our team, to articulate what matters most and guide those we lead to focus their energy toward it. So, why does it also seem that the relationships that matter most to us don’t always receive our focused energy? In this episode, Jenni Catron and author (and former divorce attorney) Toni Nieuwhof discuss ways to prioritize our closest relationships and the benefits of doing so. It’s the thematic content of Nieuwhof’s new book Before You Split, a valuable resource for leaders who want to pursue healthy relationships.
Click HERE to listen to the episode!
Keep leading well, friends!
Jenni Catron and The 4Sight Group
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.