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The Ten Commandments of Building A Great Culture (7-10)


So far, we have looked at the top 6 “Commandments” of building a great organizational culture. They are:
1.  Create Safe Places
2. Direct Intentional Conversations
3. Manage Anxiety Levels
4. Use The Water Cooler
5. Reward Risk Taking
6. Resist Consensus Building.

Today, we’ll look at the final four.

7. Let Ideas Percolate
Your culture did not get to where it is overnight. And you won’t be able to change it overnight. Your job as a leader is to “stand on the balcony”, looking down on the dance floor, viewing the big picture. When you do this you are able to get out of the moment and its tyranny of the urgent and into a broader view, where moving parts mesh into a whole. Do not let up on your efforts at cultural change but do not be discouraged if there are times when the pace feels too slow for you.

8. Raise The Temperature
Expose competing values. Encourage conflict (for more on this, see here). The work of a leader is not to squelch but rather to spotlight competing values, especially when they relate to the core mission of the organization. Real change cannot happen unless people are allowed to see where their values compete and where they differ and when this is done in a climate of encouragement and acceptance. This hurts, it’s risky, and it can feel scary. But culture doesn’t start to shift until someone raises the tough questions and hence the temperature.

9. Give Grief Room
When people lose something, they grieve. And there are “losers” in cultural transformation. People lose the familiar, they lose perks, they may lose titles, positions, or power. When things change – even for the better – there is loss. This is OK. It’s necessary. People can’t heal until they do grieve and you can’t change an organizational culture without healing.

10. Create The Quest
Remember the basic premise of our work – there are three things at the heart of what it means to be human

  • To Belong
  • To Contribute
  • To Make A Difference

Make these three quests part of your metrics, the very way you evaluate your organization. Tell your people “I want these three things for you and I will go to the wall to create a culture where you can experience them”. When you do this you are speaking to the most powerful aspects of the human heart. Work becomes a quest for meaning, rather than simply a way to pay the bills. Except for the most hardened of hearts, everyone wants to go on a quest that uncovers meaning in their lives – we are made for that! Tap into this universal desire and you cannot help  but have an engaged team!