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‘Cultureship’

A potential client called me today to talk about some “issues.” She said the team needed leadership training. People weren’t communicating well, dropping the ball and not being their word. Training was not taking hold, and the team not taking ownership. She was right. Leadership training was essential for moving the bar. We talked a little longer, and I mentioned the word “culture.”

She became dismissive and stated they already had a culture, and that wasn’t the issue. I begged to differ. I said, “Leadership and culture are interchangeable terms. If companies had the culture they want, they would have the results they want. It is that direct a correlation.

The tricky part for the leader comes when they pose the question, “If we aren’t getting the results we want, who’s to blame? Ah, the culture around must be the problem.” But who drives the culture?

Culture can’t be relegated to a department or to the corporate office. Vibe and workability are either something leadership strategically crafts or earns by default, as in “the way things have always been around here.” More often than not in enterprises that have been around a long time, the employees create the culture, and the new and revolving leadership comes in, finds it to hard to change, so focuses elsewhere. But leaders are the “guy behind the curtain.”

I am not a big believer in struggle. I much prefer ease and flow. I don’t like to slash and burn for the hell of it. I just like to have happy constituents, raise the bar and deliver a stellar bottom line. I was once ousted by a CEO because he took over when I was in the middle of a significant and much needed transition at a resort. He couldn’t take the pain. He valued harmony above progress. I don’t mind singing “Kumbaya” around a campfire, but leadership requires getting messy sometimes, and this culture looked fine at a glance but was steeped in “employees run the asylum” mentality.

When the results aren’t good enough, it’s easy to throw programs du jour around, but to really raise the bar, take care of your people better than the other guy, and they will take care of your “bidness.”

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