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Culture Is Your Job

by Jesse Lahey on August 14, 2019

 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” ~ Attributed to the late Peter Drucker; popularized in 2006 by Mark Fields, former CEO of Ford

A mid-level professional gave a presentation to a group of vice-presidents of the company where he works. He sprinkled in some of his trademark humor, which usually gets a positive response from his audiences and helps them connect with the real human behind his subject-matter expertise. But this time, the response was … crickets. No one even cracked a smile.

Later, one of the VPs pulled him aside to provide feedback. “Your presentation was full of great insights and information. But I don’t think the humor was necessary. Stick to facts.”

Oh, the Irony

That company’s official values and policies encourage people to “be their true self at work.” As at many organizations today, their strategy recognizes the business value of cultivating an inclusive environment and attracting diverse perspectives. But this story about the VPs seems to show that their strategy isn’t yet being lived out in their culture.

Yeah, I get it. You’re just a ______ (fill in the blank … VP, mid-level manager, individual contributor). So many factors driving corporate culture fall outside your sphere of influence.

And yet, there are six personal drivers of culture that every person in the organization can own … and in fact, do own, whether or not they realize it. Regardless of your role in the company, it’s your job to cultivate the right culture. And you have every one of these six drivers at your disposal:

 

The professional in this story realized that culture is his job. After listening to the feedback, he thanked the VP (after all, the well-meaning VP was practicing caring and coaching).

And then he said something like, “I’m choosing to set that feedback aside and continue being the authentic ‘me’ in that type of situation. Because I think it’s important to set an example of being our true self at work. Our company’s culture and business sustainability depend on it.”

Which of these Cs was he practicing?

By the way, all six Cs are necessary and equally important … as I’m reminded by the consequences when I fall short in any of them. In your leadership, how are you practicing all six Cs of culture?

Your workplace is rich with diversity – a mix of races, ethnicities, genders, generations, and personality types. But diversity is not the same as inclusion. Leaders would be shocked to know the resources that go untapped and the ideas that go undiscovered simply because certain people are consistently excluded from the conversation.

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