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31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader


Day #17: Corporate Culture


Culture eats strategy for breakfast.– Peter Drucker, Author Team Synergy

Here’s a process for establishing a high-functioning corporate culture for any type of enterprise. If you are starting a new venture, it’s better to focus on the culture from the beginning, since it’s much more difficult to go back and correct habits that have already been established. It’s difficult anyway, since people are accustomed to a top-down, autocratic, tell-me-what-to-do type of arrangement. This establishes a culture, in which each person shows up as a leader in their various roles and at the level of their responsibility.

Leadership is an individual skill. It’s also a culture of high-performing individuals. In music, when the choir or orchestra learns the notes, then we work together to develop a synergy we call “ensemble.” This higher state of community comes through intentionality and rehearsal with everyone in the group paying attention and focusing all their efforts on the group functioning. No individual gives up their individual skill, however that skill is merged with the skill of others to create a higher performance standard.

Here are my steps in developing a high performing culture:

  • Be clear about values and principles – Since you have already defined the organization’s values and principles, it’s time to communicate those clearly. It’s essential that every person understands and embodies both of these. Team members, such as staff, committee, or board, can continue to fine-tune the operational guiding principles with your guidance. Every principle must meet your approval, however when the team adds even one principle, then their ownership of the concept is solidified.
  • Develop a team covenant – A covenant is not a contract. A covenant is a promise we give to one another. In this step, the team members articulate how the interdependence of the team is important to the team’s ultimate success and sustainable success. In Day #19, I provide the format for developing a team covenant.
  • Focus on relationships – Leadership is based on relationship. Communication is based on relationship. Always value the individual and work on relationship.
  • Meet regularly, but always with purpose – In the podcast about conducting power-packed meetings (#20), I provide a very different model for conducting meetings. It resembles how a conductor leads music rehearsals. It’s the key to developing the team’s high-functioning culture and the way to developing a fine-tuned ensemble.
  • Develop action plans in teams – There’s a synergy, along with mutual accountability, when teams create action plans together. It’s a “New Architecture of Engagement™” for erasing the lines that create silos and territories within companies. Creating the plans together is a collaborative activity and, in that process, leaders discover ways of working together by defining what each of them needs from others and what they share with others.
  • Meet with multiple teams to compare and collaborate – If the organization is large enough, it’s important for the leaders of the different teams to meet frequently to look at the cross-disciplinary opportunities for the work. In this step, we erase other lines that separate people within organizations.
  • Model what your want to see in the team – The pace of the leader sets the pace for the team. The integrity…the work ethic…the engagement…the attitude… Get the picture? The team is a reflection of the leader.
  • Coach for success – In Day #23, I go into more depth about coaching. It’s important for the leader to be a leadership resource, forming the culture and growing the engagement. Coaching is a specific skill, so master that skill. The goal of coaching is listening and asking good questions, and not telling people what to do.

Intentionality of purpose in creating a high-performing culture, along with mastering the skill needed, is the only way to build an excellent corporate culture.


Next: Day #18 – Getting Team “Buy-In”

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