What’s more important? Getting the order out today, or creating a culture that will enable you to do 5,000 orders next year?
The answer, of course, is both.
One task – the order today – is urgent and easy to understand. The other issue – creating an empowering culture for growth – is also important. While culture building is never urgent, it’s the thousands of little intentional things. It’s harder to codify, but we all know a good one when we see it.
When well-intentioned people are mired in the day-to-day rush of business, it’s challenging to be intentional about culture.
It happens in the macro and the micro. For example, look at a family scenario. The leaders (parents) can run around taking care of the urgent tasks – dinner, laundry and the formidable task of making a living. These tasks alone are enough to fill each day and then some. But what makes a family really work is the culture, the emotional climate, the tone, the shared belief system.
We can try to mandate those. I can create a list of “family” values and recite them to my kids every night at dinner. I can even make them memorize our values. But I won’t be creating a values-based culture. I’ll be creating a memorizing and reciting culture. It might be a little better than simply running around trying to get the laundry done, but not by much.
The leader’s job is more than simply shipping the orders (or making the dinners). The job of the leader is to create the cultural climate of the organization. It doesn’t matter if you are leading a family of two or a corporation of 2 million. If you don’t create your culture by design, it will be created by default.
Culture is a fuzzy, messy thing that involves feeling, emotions, beliefs and behaviors. Being intentional about creating an emotional climate requires more than inspirational posters…