Culture is a living growing organism. Miso, yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut…all contain it. It needs the right environment to grow and to thrive. We are encouraged to include it in our diet because it contains active, live probiotics that help to keep us healthy. In your organization, in your family, in your country, you have a culture, whether you are creating it intentionally or not. Just like in in food, it needs the right environment to grow. Like foods, if your culture doesn’t have the right environment, it can spoil and turn toxic.
We are constantly in the process of nurturing the culture in our organization. We know that if you neglect the important things, like listening, really listening, the environment can and will change. The good news is that your culture has muscle memory. Well the good news and the bad. If your culture was not conducive to growth and love and teamwork, it can easily slip back there without strong leadership. When a culture has started to slip, as it can, you’d better pay attention and get in there before apathy starts its alluring pull back to the starting point. That the pull is like a tug of war, with the followers becoming stronger than the leader. Discord and inertia and even sabotage can and will happen when the culture is slipping. But muscle memory- it can bring you right back up to where you need to be with the right leadership.
Every problem, every issue, is a leadership issue. Without a strong leader who listens and cares and lives what they teach it is impossible to sustain a positive culture. Turning around a slip, or even the act of constantly creating and growing a culture entails connecting with the key people on your team. These are the green leaders and top performers, the 20% that are producing 80% of the results.
Connect and talk to your people. Ask them what their biggest challenges are. And help solve them. Listen. Follow up and follow through. And listen some more. If you don’t care, no one else will either. Celebrate the direction while keeping the goal in your sights. Remember that it is the little things that you do consistently that stack and compound and build the culture, be intentional about your habits.