Have you ever been totally caught off guard by a speaker before? Have you held certain expectations of their message, only to be shocked by their completely uncharacteristic approach? This happened to me recently when our pastor addressed our church about our culture. I have never been so fired up while at the same time being so convicted!
Church vs. Business?
I will not go into the specific details about our church’s situation. I will simply say that our pastor made it crystal clear that things had to change dramatically within our culture and that God was leading him to start that process immediately. He is not a rookie to church leadership, so I believe he recognizes the tough road ahead. At the same time, his incredible passion will certainly draw the support of those (like me!) who know God has initiated this move through him.
While I am sure you are excited to know that God is leading transformation at our church, you may be wondering what that has to do with our businesses. Fortunately, there are clear parallels in this situation. As I look at the two different contexts (church and business), the applications of these lessons are virtually identical.
Culture Is Not Static
In his book, The Four Obsessions of An Extraordinary Executive, Patrick Lencioni details a four-part process to building a healthy organization. It is this process that I believe we must follow if we are going to ensure that the right culture pervades our business. I am also convinced that, like our church, failing to follow this process will result in the wrong culture in our businesses.
The truth is that the culture of our business is continuously being created and influenced. We are either knowingly creating it or we are doing so unknowingly. There is no possibility of the culture staying static on its own. If you get nothing else from this post, please absorb this idea.
Every day, you and your company’s leaders are making decisions that impact your company culture. Whenever your business is open (and sometimes even when it is not!), your culture is changing. Sometimes it is changing for better and sometimes for worse, but it is always changing.
Here’s the problem with this: to whatever degree you and your leadership team are not intentionally pressing your culture to improve, it is usually going in the other direction on its own. If we as humans do not naturally tend toward being healthier, stronger, more virtuous individuals on our own, then our culture will not either. Left unattended, your business culture will deteriorate.
So what are we to do about this? Never quit pushing to build and improve the culture that you believe God has put in your heart to create. Never. It is an “always and forever” part of your job. You cannot delegate it or offload it to someone else.
Sure, you can (and should) enlist others to assist you. You will certainly not succeed alone. At the same time, it is you and you alone that must be the primary driver of this effort. If not, you will not like where it ends up.
If this resonates with you and you want to embrace this part of your job, then I suggest you read Lencioni’s book. It is an easy read and will give you a blueprint for establishing and maintaining the culture God desires for your business.
4 Disciplines For Healthy Culture
If you know absolutely that you are not going to read Lencioni’s book, then here are the four parts of his process. Obviously, I am not able to communicate in this short space the same amount of information that he does in his book. At the same time, this is a very simple process and will not confuse you at all.
Discipline 1: Build a Cohesive Leadership Team
You need help creating and maintaining the culture God desires for your business. The key to getting this help lies in building a cohesive leadership team. Lencioni goes into great detail on how to do it, but the point is to develop a team of like-minded leaders that can help you in your efforts.
Discipline 2: Create Clarity
Before you can create the right culture in your business, you must be clear on what you want to create! That sounds overly simple, but you would be amazed at how many cannot clearly describe the culture they are trying to create. Get clear on exactly what you are looking to build before you swing the first hammer!
Discipline 3: Overcommunicate Clarity
This is where most leaders fall short. We start out strong with our communication of the vision, but then we get tired of it or we think everyone else gets it. Maybe they do, but they forget. Things happen to oppose this culture. The final word is that you must over-communicate it until you think it is worn out…and then you keep on doing it!
Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity
Unfortunately, it is not enough to “tell” people about your vision for the culture of the company. You must also reinforce this communication with action. This action comes in the form of company policies and processes. Decisions made by your leaders must align with the culture. You cannot say one thing, do another, and expect your envisioned culture to thrive!
I encourage you to take some time and assess your company’s culture. Do not look at reputation (Rev. 3:1). Do not think about what you would LIKE for it to be. Instead, take a hard look around you and see what is actually there. Depending on what you see, take the next steps to make sure it is moving in the direction God desires…and never quit!
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