Impacting the Culture - Part 1

A colleague of mine is writing an article about culture and how members of the Board and the executive team impact it. He asked for input on tips and ideas to include.

In thinking about some tips for his consideration, a few occurred to me.

1. Start with You - Because an organization's culture reflects the actions and values of its leaders, it seems to me that before anything else, a leader must start with the person that he or she sees in the mirror each morning. As the Michael Jackson song lyric says: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make a change.”

2. Everything You Do Teaches - As a member of the Board or the executive team, you set the tone and the pace for your organization. Your actions (and inaction's) carry weight. Your influence is felt. As my pastor Fr. Doug Haefner is fond of saying to his staff and to the pastoral council, "Everything you do teaches."

3. Be mindful of Yourself - Are you aware of your presence? Of your impact? Do you know what signals you are sending in what you do, what you say, and how you convey it?

To impact the culture for the better, the leader's first priority then is to gain greater self-awareness. With such self-insight, they will then be able to move on to the next phase, designing the culture for high performance.

In Part 2, the next set of tips will address the design phase.

Terrence Seamon has been working on the topic of organizational culture and leadership for over 30 years. Follow him on twitter @tseamon.


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