Creating an Ideal Culture

One of the most popular questions I am asked is, “How do we create an organization like love-based leadership?” That is a big question! Love-based leadership begins with self-discovery, self-awareness, and self-growth; however, the organizational culture is a big part of this dynamic.Because the organizational culture is so important, I am devoting the next four blog posts to taking a deep dive in understanding culture. Let’s get right to it.Like a tree, the culture of an organization has many interconnected components—each one linked to and vital to the growth of another. Three primary parts comprise the culture including behavior, beliefs, and values/assumptions/mental models which equate to the tree’s leaves/branches, trunk, and roots respectively.When we look at the most visible feature of the tree, the leaves, we see the physical elements. These physical elements are the most superficial part of a culture. In organizations, the physical elements represent the actual physical spaces within the organizations. What do we see as we approach the outward vestiges of the organization? Is signage prominently and attractively displayed? Do you receive a warm greeting by the receptionist when you walk in? Is the building well-kept or is it in disrepair? Other physical elements we notice are photos and signs on the walls, mission or vision statements proudly displayed, employee of the month plaques, the walls, windows, cubicles, volunteer thank-you plaques and trophies, gathering spaces and other physical clues.The next element we notice is the language spoken. In any culture, a shared language brings people together and allows for efficient, quick communication. Often we notice a unique slang, acronyms, and industry-specific terms in organizations. I remember when I first entered the sales field and the staff referred to the next lead (person) who came in the door as an “up” which meant to get your butt up out of the chair and go sell to them!Ceremonies, rituals, and routines are the next layer of culture. These elements are more substantive than the leaves as they are thicker and closer to the trunk. Organizations sometimes strategically plan ceremonies and rituals such as annual award dinners and employee or customer appreciation luncheons. However, routines and rituals of a less formal nature are just as solid and telling of a culture. In one organization where I worked, we always celebrated an employee birthday with a song and a cake. It was our tradition (ritual) that the guest of honor cut and serve the cake to all in attendance.Next week, we will explore the power of stories in our organizations. Let me know your thoughts, comments, or questions.With love,Maria