Leading a purposeful, positive, productive culture

happy creative team writing on stickers at officeHow much attention does your organization’s culture enjoy each day? If your business is like most across the globe, culture isn’t even on the radar.

Yet culture – the quality of the work environment, how people treat each other, the norms that guide daily behavior and activities – is growing in importance. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, “few factors contribute more to business success than culture.” Their research indicates that 87 percent of business leaders believe that culture is important. 54 percent believe culture is very important – nine percentage points higher than their 2015 study.

Culture is a business issue. It drives everything that happens in your organizations, for better or worse. Why don’t leaders make culture a priority? They don’t know how. They’ve never been asked to manage culture. Deloitte’s study found that only 28 percent of respondents believe they understand their current culture well. Only 19 percent believe they have the “right” culture!


Culture matters! Whether you’re a small business owner, team leader, department head, regional executive, CEO of a multi-national, or anything in between, you need to spend time and energy on culture.

If leaders want a purposeful, positive, productive culture – where team members thrive and LOVE to come to work – leaders must invest time in examining their current culture and refining that current culture.

My proven culture refinement process helps leaders understand their current culture, define their desired culture, and close gaps to make their desired culture a reality.

The process starts with discovery. I interview all senior leaders and often next level leaders to learn how the culture – of their leadership team and of the overall organization – operates today. I review employee survey results and performance trends. I analyze this information and craft an interview summary and recommendations document that all leaders review in advance of our face-to-face kickoff session.

While these interviews are happening, leaders read select chapters of my book, The Culture Engine, and complete the worksheets in the back of those chapters to prepare for our kickoff.

During our two-day face-to-face “culture refinement process” kickoff session, leaders discuss the interview summary and recommendations, noting their top three most urgent gaps to address. They share their personal servant purpose, values, and behaviors, typically learning that many on the team share the same purpose and values.

They then begin defining their desired culture by formalizing their organizational constitution: their servant purpose (who the company serves and ‘to what end’ besides making money), their values and behaviors (measurable behaviors that indicate they’re modeling their values), their strategies, and goals.

As most organizations have some form of strategies and goals in place, those elements are easy. The other elements – servant purpose, values, and behaviors – are foreign to most organizations and leaders. Crafting those is hard work! Finishing those will take time after the kickoff session.

For example, one leadership team I’m working with set aside two hours each Monday morning to work on their servant purpose, values, and behaviors. After three meetings, they’ve crafted a solid servant purpose, defined three of their five values, and specified three measurable behaviors for each of those three values. They’re making great progress!

And, the CEO told me, the team is behaving much differently than before the kickoff. “There’s less ‘me’ and more ‘we,'” he said. They’re engaging in this challenging work together. They’re debating ideas while honoring their peers. They’re making sure every voice is heard – not just the confident extroverted voices.

They’re treating each other with trust, dignity, and respect, in every interaction. All in three weeks’ time.

A purposeful, positive, productive culture won’t happen by default. It only happens by design. What are you waiting for? Your desired culture is within reach.

Do people treat others with trust, respect, and dignity in your organization, in every interaction? Share your insights on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Photo © Syda Productions – Adobe Stock. All rights reserved.

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