How does your Company’s Culture Measure Up?

How well does your current company culture support desired performance as well as maintain consistent employee passion?

Are your customers pleased – maybe even thrilled – with the products and services you provide and how they are treated by your staff?

Do current and potential employees believe your company is a great place to work? Are your customers positive “word of mouth” marketers of your company and your products and services?

All of these are indicators of a healthy corporate culture. Most senior leaders are unaware of the powerful impact that culture has on their organization’s performance and on employee satisfaction/engagement/passion. Blanchard‘s award-winning, proven culture change process helps educate senior leaders about their responsibilities to proactively manage their company’s culture. Those activities include role modeling and reinforcing performance and values expectations, holding all staff accountable for those expectations, and refining those expectations over time as your market and opportunities evolve.

The creation of a valid, reliable culture assessment is no small task. When we first built our culture assessment, process co-authors Bob Glaser, Garry Demarest, and I did an extensive literature review and meta-analysis of culture change research and of best practices around the globe. We continue that study regularly to ensure that our profile assesses the right cultural elements today. Our culture change clients tell us we’ve got it right.

The items on our culture change assessment describe the best practices of high performance, values-aligned cultures. We use a six point rating scale (an even numbered scale prevents respondents from select a neutral, mid-point answer, which doesn’t provide you with actionable data):

  1. Strongly Disagree
  2. Disagree
  3. Slightly Disagree
  4. Slightly Agree
  5. Agree
  6. Strongly Agree

We do provide a response category titled “don’t know/doesn’t apply.” However, we’d prefer to see no responses here – as you’ll see from the sample items below, all of these statements apply in a high performing, values-aligned culture!

Here are a few sample items from our culture assessment for your consideration:

  • Team members understand what it takes for our organization to be successful today.
  • Individual team members’ personal purpose and values are aligned with our organization’s purpose and values.
  • Team member performance plans include both ends goals (results) and means goals (valued behaviors).
  • Declared team values are the foundation of team decisions and actions.
  • Our work environment fosters trust among team members.
  • At work, team members actively praise and encourage each other.

What is a “good” response to these items? We want to see scores at the 5-6 level for every item, across the organization, from frontline employees to senior leaders. That kind of alignment to these cultural best practices does not happen casually – it happens only with consistent focus by the senior leadership team and leaders across the organization.

As part of the two-day process kickoff workshop for the organization’s senior leadership team, we typically complete two different culture assessments as prework and analyze the results together during the session:

  • The first context is of the senior leader and his/her direct reports ranking their executive team. In previous posts here I’ve stated the vital importance of an aligned senior leadership team that proactively manages their company culture with “one heart, one mind, one voice.” This data helps the senior leadership team understand what gaps exist today and enables action planning to close those gaps across this team.
  • The second context is from the “frontline,” assessing how employees rank the organization on these key questionnaire items. This “overall” perspective is important as it helps the senior leadership team understand culture gaps perceived by their “first customers” – their employees – and begin action planning to address those gaps.

By using our assessment you’ll discover what gaps exist between the best practices of high performance, values-aligned cultures and your organization’s culture. We stand by to help you address those gaps and build an amazing work environment for employees, customers, and stakeholders.

How well does your team or department do on the sample culture items above? What do YOU look for in an aligned corporate culture? Share your comments below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

A Leader Only When You have Followers

This YouTube video was shot in May 2009 at the Sasquatch Music Festival, which is held at the Gorge Amphitheater outside of Wenatchee, WA.

It shows how one shirtless dancing guy creates a wonderful dance party – in minutes – all because of the commitment and willingness of his first follower.

I learned about this impactful video from one of our culture change clients, the senior vice president of a US-based retail giant. Joel’s division includes seven states, over 300 stores, and more than 85,000 employees (!).

Joel is a fabulous servant leader and has a very clear vision of how he wants employees to feel at work every day: trusted, honored, and respected by their bosses and peers. This won’t happen without leaders across the business serving their employees FIRST and their customers SECOND.

Joel sees this video clip as the perfect demonstration of followers making a huge impact, very quickly. In discussions with managers in his division, Joel describes not just the cool dance party this guy generates – but how impressive it is for that first follower to join in the dance. Without followers, leaders are not leading – they’re just filling a role.

Joel is trying to be his division’s “dancing guy” – describing how to manage their business in a values-aligned way, to benefit employees so they perform well AND love the work they do, which positively impacts the customer experiences, etc. – and Joel cannot accomplish this vision unless his managers follow him.

Joel’s vision and values – and his team’s commitment to clear expectations and accountability – have helped the stores in his division increase performance in three vital areas over the last two years: employee satisfaction, customer service ratings, and profitability. Joel is a marvelous, inspiring, effective leader – you can tell by observing the motivated, skilled, high-performing followers at his side!

What do leaders do that inspire YOU to follow them? Add your thoughts in the comments section below!


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

How Tolerations Hinder the Values-Aligned Culture

As part of my work with Blanchard‘s coaching.com team, I was exposed to a very powerful concept: tolerations. This idea is critical to living a values-aligned life in your family, community, or workplace – and to creating the high performance, values-aligned culture.

The concept of tolerations was developed by Thomas Leonard, often called the creator of the life coaching movement. Thomas founded Coach U and the International Coaching Federation, and created many programs used by coaches worldwide to help clients be more effective in their lives. Thomas passed away suddenly in 2003, leaving a legacy of exceptional coaching methods and standards.

Here’s how Thomas positioned tolerations:

Let’s define tolerations as things that bug us, sap our energy, and could be eliminated! Tolerations are holes in your personal success cup; they drain away your contentment and good fortune. They drain YOU. They make you feel less attractive to yourself. Tolerations often represent compromises you’ve talked yourself into.

My focus in this article is on how senior leaders’ tolerations impact their organization’s culture. If senior leaders want a high performance, values-aligned culture yet tolerate behaviors that are inconsistent with desired valued behaviors, there are undesirable results that always occur:

  • Leader credibility is eroded – if senior leaders say they want a certain culture yet they tolerate poor behavior from organization leaders or members, then senior leaders’ words and commitments are not trusted.
  • Organization leaders and members are frustrated and disappointed because accountability is inconsistent, which erodes both performance and commitment to the organization, its customers, and its stakeholders.
  • The desired culture never gains traction.

Senior leaders are often blind to what they are tolerating in their culture and do not clearly see the negative impact of those tolerations. Tolerations create a frustrating work environment and inhibit performance and creativity. They drain energy and commitment and erode trust across the workforce. The costs are real.

The good news: controlling senior leader tolerations is about each senior leader’s choices and behavior – it’s not about fixing others around them. Sometimes partnering with a competent executive coach can help senior leaders see their culture from a new perspective, and help them identify the key tolerations that are causing frustration and holding their organization back.

Recognize and Address Your Tolerations

Whether you are a senior leader of a multi-million dollar company, a project team lead, or anyone in between, eliminating tolerations follows the same series of steps.

  1. Create a list of the things that bug you, that drain your energy, that compromise desired behaviors in your culture. Focus particularly on behaviors that are inconsistent with your organization’s desired valued behaviors.
  2. Prioritize your list so the issues that have the greatest negative impact can be addressed first. Being conscious of what you’ve tolerated in your culture helps you modify your choices and your behavior to no longer accept those tolerations.
  3. Have conversations with those players whose behavior you’ve been tolerating, one at a time. These are non-judgmental conversations – not emotional or explosive conversations. These people have been behaving in these ways for a long time because you have tolerated their behavior. Now, you have made a choice to not tolerate that behavior any more.
  4. Secure clear agreements about future behavior, and hold those players accountable for their commitments. Praise progress and accomplishment, and redirect players if they struggle with their new commitments. If players are unable to keep their commitments, lovingly set them free – help them out of the organization as they are unable to demonstrate desired valued behaviors.

As you eliminate tolerations in your culture, you will be amazed at the demonstration of increased energy, motivation, performance, and commitment by organization leaders and members.

What are you tolerating in your personal or professional life today? What experience do you have with growth after reducing tolerations? Share your comments below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Power of Praise

Years ago I was a teacher and coach at a small Catholic girls high school in Southern California. I learned a valuable lesson while there that continues to guide my interactions with others to this day.

I was a volleyball player in high school and college – even USVBA-rated for a while – and assistant coached at the college level. When the opportunity arose to take a teaching position and serve as varsity volleyball coach at the high school, I jumped at it. (No pun intended.)

I began working with the team, building fundamental skills in passing, setting, hitting, and defense. I instituted a defensive system and offensive plays that leveraged the starter’s skills, and the team responded well. We began having successes (winning games!) after years of being the doormat team in a very competitive coastal league.

I had just married at the time and inherited two step-children – Karin, then 14 years old, and Andy, 10 years old. I never had kids of my own so I was a total newbie. Wife Diane tried to guide me – at times, I was teachable. Karin was a volleyball player, as well, so love of the game created some neat bonding opportunities for the two of us.

Once a week, Karin would finish her practices then scurry over to our gym where she helped run drills for my team for an hour or so. After practice, Karin and I would grab a quick bite to eat then head to the local recreation center for three hours of doubles play. The local community was filled with very good volleyball players – we lost more than we won. We got better as the season wore on but never were one of the top teams at the center.

A few months after our weekly “volleyball nights” began, I was driving Karin home after a very good showing one evening. We’d played well and took some matches against teams that regularly beat us. We were both pleased – and sweaty and tired.

Karin turned to me and said, “You’re a really good volleyball coach. You work hard to let your team members know what you expect of them. You break down skills into specific steps they can get good at, and praise them when they’re doing things the way you want them to.”

Wow! I was really pleased to hear Karin say that – and, I’ll admit, I puffed up a bit, thinking, “Yup, I’m a very good coach, and Karin’s lucky to have me in her life . . . ”

Then Karin said, “You never praise me.

Clunk. I stuttered a bit, and told her, “Well, I have higher standards of you.” Karin said, “That’s not fair.”

A couple of minutes of silence let me figure out what to say – and do! – next. I apologized, saying she was right, I wasn’t being fair. I remember trying to praise her for her efforts that evening, and got a small smile out of her. In the months (and years) following, I tried to be more aware of what Karin was doing right – on and off the volleyball court – and believe I improved in expressing my gratitude at her skills and contributions.

That conversation happened 30 years ago – nearly to the day. Karin’s insights helped me realize that I have a very well honed skill at catching people doing things WRONG. If I want to be an effective influencer, I need to catch people doing things RIGHT. I work on this every day, with clients, peers, and bosses. I’m not great at it yet, but I’m better. Practice makes perfect!

What helps prompt you to express thanks and gratitude for others’ efforts and contributions? Share your insights in the comments section below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Moral Courage to conduct Difficult Conversations


I recently facilitated a culture change process kickoff with some of the finest men and women I’ve ever met – uniformed and former Marines who are engaged in a continuous process improvement effort across the Marine Corps. Blanchard has highlighted the US Marine Corps for years as one of the most values-aligned organizations on the planet. The Marine values of “Honor, Courage, and Commitment” are the foundation of every interaction, in and out of war zones, for every Marine. For life.

Yet, like all human organizations, sometimes the focus on productivity dilutes the commitment to values alignment. The incredible pressure of wartime and multiple fronts may be unique to our military, but the challenge of delivering consistent high performance while always modeling desired values is common across organizations worldwide.

In our session at the Marine base in Quantico, VA, one of the program’s leaders shared insights from one of his best bosses in the Corps. This officer helped Joel learn an important nuance of what courage means in the Marines. The officer differentiated two different kinds of courage: physical courage and moral courage. Physical courage is demonstrated when a physical reaction is required – pulling a wounded Marine out of harm’s way or jumping into the driver’s seat of a vehicle to move it out of the line of fire, for example. Moral courage is demonstrated when a Marine sees behavior that misses the Marine standard, and a difficult conversation is required.

Joel explained that physical courage is trained into the “body, mind, and spirit” of Marines so demonstrating it is simple, immediate. Joel’s best boss believed that moral courage is more difficult, and, without it, leaders are ultimately ineffective anywhere they serve.

It does not take moral courage to observe a Marine’s dress uniform askew; it takes moral courage to pull him or her aside and ask that it immediately be fixed. It does not take moral courage to observe a direct report deliver poor service to a customer; it takes moral courage to ask them to sit down, discuss what you observed, and help them commit to different behaviors that will “wow” their customer in the future.

A lack of moral courage means that accountability for expectations – both performance expectations or values expectations – is inconsistent at best and absent at worst. This “optional” culture typically translates into poor quality of products and services, inconsistent customer experiences, and unfair treatment of employees within the organization.

Moral courage does not mean that you deliver messages with anger, frustration, or a demeaning approach. It means that you conduct difficult conversations with care and caring, expecting the best from your follower, facilitating and coaching their clear understanding of both the expectation and the behavior required to meet that expectation.

If you want a high performance, values aligned culture, you must clarify performance and values expectations and then hold all leaders and staff accountable for meeting (or exceeding) those standards. Be bold with praise and encouragement when leaders and staff deliver performance the right way. Moral courage will help you conduct those needed difficult conversations along the path towards your desired culture.

What successful or not-quite-successful difficult conversations have you experienced over your career? Share your insights in the comments section below.


Subscribe to Chris’ twice a month updates! Text VALUES to 66866 or head here.


Chris’ new “Culture Leadership Charge” series and the rest of his video clips can be found on YouTube. Subscribe to Chris’ YouTube channel.


podcast_subscribeSubscribe to Chris’ posts via RSS.


itunes_subscribeListen to or subscribe to over 300 of Chris’ Culture Leadership Podcasts on iTunes.


The music heard on Chris’ podcasts is from one of his songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright © 2005-2017 Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). He played all instruments, recorded all tracks, and mastered the final product for your listening pleasure.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, Chris will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, Chris only recommend products or services he uses personally and believes will add value to his readers. Chris is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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