Culture Creation – Part 3 of 4: The Beliefs Bridge

Last week, we looked at the elements of the culture above the surface, behavior. The trunk, bridging the branches and leaves above the ground to the roots below, are the beliefs we have individually and the beliefs we share collectively. Beliefs are the support to the behaviors demonstrated on the surface through the physical, language, ceremony, and story elements. The organizational beliefs are sometimes spelled out through the mission and vision statements, as well as policies and procedures. Many times, the beliefs are not in our consciousness until we are faced with a situation where we must examine them.

Because beliefs are the trunk or the stabilizing factor that directly fuels behavior, it is important for us to recognize the power beliefs have over our behavior. For instance, the Pygmalion effect is a phenomenon whereby you believe your team will fail, and in the end, they subsume that negative energy are not successful. Conversely, if you believe the person you just promoted into that position will succeed, the odds are that they will be successful. Our underlying beliefs affect our behavior. In the first example, you may not be available to the team for support, direction, and/or guidance. In the second scenario, you may be fully present to help that person succeed, providing mentorship and encouragement. Just as Henry Ford stated, “If you believe you can or believe you cannot, you are correct.”

Below the surface, beneath the leaves, branches, and trunk, we understand how the tree is nourished. The root structure is more elaborate and complex than the tree itself. This is true in our organizational cultures. The deeper we go below the surface, the deeper ingrained are the elements that feed into beliefs and behaviors. In those depths, lie the values, mental models, and perceptions that are so deeply ingrained that we are not even aware of them.

On Thursday, we will go to the deepest recesses of our cultures. Let me know your thoughts, comments, and questions. I love hearing from you!

With love,