When it comes to leading an organization, finding the right fit for both the leader AND the team is critical to success. When the fit is all wrong, you don’t have a snowball’s chance in … well you know what I mean.
Be up front about your culture.
The first step in avoiding leadership meltdown is understanding the culture that exists or that you are creating within your organization. It’s easy to slap some words up on a website and say “Here it is – this is our culture” but very few people will actually pay it a whole lot of attention. The true culture inside your organization is based on the experiences of your employees, customers, and partners. It starts with the example set by the leaders and reflects in the faces of the organization at every level. If you are not sure what your culture really looks like, ask questions. Just like a brand, culture exists in the perceptions of others. If you don’t understand those perceptions, its unlikely you will understand what your culture truly reflects.
As you come to understand your culture, your true values – those that you act on and demonstrate regularly will become clear. Your company’s history, decisions and actions are the evidence of what your organization values. Look at your true values carefully. Do they match what you publicly say your values are? If so, great. If not, go back and look at the trail of evidence. If stated values are misaligned with your true values, your team and your customers will be confused and you will most likely be building a culture that is inconsistent with where you as the leader want it and your organization to be.
Build around shared values
One way to help your culture and your company to stay on course is to lay a foundation of shared values and then build on them. Ann Rhoades, founder of PeopleInk and author of Built On Values (Jossey Bass, 2011) knows what happens when you build a values based business. Listen to what Ann shares based on first hand experience at Southwest Airlines, Jet Blue and many more great companies.
When I first started CorePurpose back in 2002, Ann was one of the very first people to help me get started. I still remember sitting at Z-Tejas over queso dip and chips and listening to Ann share her wisdom and experience. The lessons she taught are still part of our culture today. They are…
- As a leader, be clear on your values and demonstrate them in your words AND actions. If you are consistently true to them, your team and your company will be too.
- Hire and fire based on values.
- Choose teammates employees, partners and customers whose values mesh with yours. If you and your team share the same values, you will not have to worry about motivating them…they are already motivated.
- When your company and its culture are built on solid values, your business will be on solid footing.
If you have not picked up a copy of Built On Values yet, I encourage you to do so. Ann’s wisdom has served me well and it can help you and your team too.
Thanks for stopping by. Stay tuned…
Joan Koerber-Walker is a two time Stevie Award National Finalist and Chairman of the Board of CorePurpose, Inc. and the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation. She also serves as Executive in Residence for Callaman Ventures and on the boards of for profit and nonprofit organizations. As the former CEO of the Arizona Small Business Association and a past member of the Board of Trustees of the National Small Business Association she has worked with hundreds of small businesses and on behalf of thousands. Chat with her on Twitter as @joankw, @JKWgrowth, @JKWinnovation, @JKWleadership and @CorePurpose or at her blog at www.JoanKoerber-Walker.com.