culture trumps vision

I believe that the limit to the growth of any organization is limited by their ability to grow and develop leaders. When I first started coming to this understanding, it seemed a long way off. A long way off from actually having a leader who we had coached and helped grow into the position we needed. We had to learn through trial and error, then through deep introspection, what qualities to look for when we select who to mentor. It started with digging deep into my heart, looking for the answer to the question, “Why are we in business?”. I have explored the changing answer to that question many times, and it has evolved as I have grown and matured. What it drills down to at the most core level for us is that we are in business to add value, or in other terms, to spread love and to brighten people’s day.

I had this conversation with one of my leaders just yesterday. Her journey is mirroring my own. As a young leader, she is finding that her position is requiring much more than managing numbers and processes. It is pushing her to learn more about herself as well as the people she is leading. She has had to learn to communicate differently with each one, and is becoming aware of the need to connect first. My coaching was to remind her that we all have a basic human need to be appreciated, to be loved. We have a tendency to take life personally. If you neglect saying hello to someone on your team, many times it is likely they will think you are either mad at them or rude or don’t care. The simple act of walking through the building and saying hello, greeting each by name, touching a shoulder or shaking a hand, can make the difference between a tough day and a great one.

Culture is a living thing, it trumps vision by 10:1. A vision will only get you so far, a vision is what you preach, but culture is what you do. You can remind people of the vision by coaching, teaching, training, but ultimately people do what people see. So my mentoring with my leader, reminding her of our vision, is only a small dose of vitamins to remind her of the direction we are headed. The true path to health for the culture is to live what I see in my vision. To be there for them when they need me while still allowing them the space to grow into the greatness that I see in them. It has to start with the leader, it has to start with me.

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
– Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company