For whatever reason, we have found jazz musicians a great resource to draw upon in our work in crafting thriving organizational culture.
One of the greatest was Charlie “Bird” Parker who made this memorable statement:
“If it ain’t in you, it can’t come out of your horn.”
Great organizational cultures have a common sense of purpose and mission that unites every stakeholder, regardless of their temperament, background, and individual responsibilities.
But they also have a bias for the particular – the unique combination of gifts, passion, life experience, competence, and talents in each individual.
This has to be more than a corporate slogan. It has to penetrate the every day interactions leaders and managers have with their team members.
I have to know what is in me. This is self-awareness, where it all begins. I can then trust myself.
Then – if you are my leader – you have to know what it is in me. And you have to trust that.
More than trust it – you have to nurture it, draw upon it, honor it, cultivate it.
That is, if you want to be the leader of an organization with a thriving culture.
Think of this rock-solid trust as the steel that reinforces the concrete of your organization’s mission.
I trust myself to do my best work with maximum discretionary effort because I trust you as my leader to honor me and give me the opportunity to shine.
Notice that all of this has to do with what is ‘inside’ me. It’s not – primarily – about skill sets or training. It starts inside.
But this isn’t “soft” stuff.
A culture that honors what is inside of each individual is a culture primed to get the very best each person has to give, in service of a common mission. And that leads to bottom line success, growth and productivity.
So, if you are a leader or a manager (or both!), here are two key questions:
- Do you know what is inside of you so well that what comes out of your “horn” is clear, focused, and excellent?
- Do you know what lies inside each of the members of your team – particularly your direct reports? And are you consciously and intentionally looking to cultivate and honor those things?