Culture Has to Come First
By: Danielle Wingate
“If your culture is horrible, your vision is irrelevant.” – Jenni Catron
How many times have you walked in to an environment only to feel like something is off? Maybe you enter a room and there is relational tension. No one has said anything about it, there are no signs pointing to it, but you sense it. You begin to see and hear things that affirm it. Truth is, it’s quite challenging to focus on much else and furthermore, why would you want to stay?
Culture is similar. You can’t touch it, there are rarely signs pointing to it to say who, what, why and how, but it is evident when you enter an environment. How so? It’s in the posture that your team carries, the attentiveness as guests are around, the problem solving and serving, the ambition, the words used and the investment shared. Our guests are going to walk in with fresh eyes and ears… they will pick up on everything that your team has been pressing on to mask on the back end. The hard work to “look and feel” great is there, no doubt, but I guarantee, it will be quite challenging for your guests to focus on much else. Which as you can imagine impacts everything else.
Vision is a buzz words these days. It’s pretty, enticing and essential to the end goal. Your culture is the means by which you get there and the length of time. Just as your church never arrives, neither should culture. It’s always growing, learning and evolving, asking the question, “how can we do this better?” Your “this” is your team, your people.
What’s the next step?
Busy probably doesn’t even describe how you feel most days. Leaders, let me encourage you, the best thing you can do for yourself and your team is to clear your calendar for an afternoon or a day. Partner with your fellow executive members or key leaders and talk through these five things:
1- Core Values– Are they clear and measurable?
2- Communication– what are the lines like?
3- Celebrations & Coaching– How do we respond when good things are done or opportunities are evident?
4- Team Building– what are we doing to help people grow in their relationships?
5- Investment– What are we doing to invest in our people personally & professionally? in that order.
To be an extraordinary leader, team and organization, we can’t afford not to build a strong foundation in culture. It will be slow and clunky at first, you are turning a big ship, but starting is often the hardest part. So lead well, look at your calendar today, clear that time and invest in your culture to enable your vision to excel.
Danielle is passionate about creating and supporting systems that improve the guest experience from beginning to end. She has been part of some amazing church staff teams and now spends her time supporting churches and leaders through consulting. She is the founder of Catalyst Women, an online space to share stories and invite women to be the change.
Danielle lives in Seattle with her husband Chris, two kids and giant schnauzer. She is a fan of any good local coffee shop and enjoys a vanilla latte with coconut milk!