As a leader, do you have the essential skill sets to build and maintain a strong culture?
Every company, without exception, has a culture. It determines how people act or work, what they believe or stand for and how they respond to pressures and challenges. I wrote about this in my last post. Building and sustaining a strong group culture is one of the most misunderstood and elusive aspects of leadership in today’s business climate.
Unfortunately, some leaders are disinterested in their culture, with no desire to delve into an area that, for them, is mysterious and superfluous. Others recognize culture’s importance but are too intimidated to tackle it. Still others attempt to craft a culture, but their unfamiliarity prevents them from taking prudent steps—and they may even make matters worse.
A strong company culture doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It’s based on constructive relationships and interactions. But humans, by nature, fail to engage each other constructively. Selfish impulses and habits get in the way. Fears, stubborn beliefs, prejudices and pride also inhibit healthy group dynamics.
When this topic comes up with my coaching clients, we discuss the importance of a focused and deliberate approach to establish, nurture and grow a strong culture. Leadership expert Daniel Coyle identifies three foundational skill sets or proficiencies in The Culture Code (Bantam Books, 2018). The principles are simple, but following them requires wisdom and empathy:
- Define the organization’s purpose. Values and goals must be shared so everyone is on the same page. A strong culture begins with unity and a common purpose.
- Foster mutual trust. Establishing a culture where people trust each other and their leader takes time, but it empowers people to excel.
- Create a sense of safety. People instinctively yearn for safety, security, a sense of belonging and a personal identity. Employees who feel safe engage wholeheartedly, without fear of reprisal or condemnation. Leaders must provide a consistently safe environment.
What do you think? Do you have the essential skill sets to build and maintain a strong culture?