I share things that come up during conversations with CEOs each week here. This week a conversation with a fellow leadership advisor prompts our discussion. In our informal network we get together periodically and discuss issues and give each other advice. I hope you do that with your peers as well.
In this case he asked my opinion on a leader who requested his help to change the culture of the organization. The leader wants to move to a different way of dealing with their customers. Less transactional and more lifetime relationship building. It seems to make sense. So, the leader wants to change the culture of the organization.
My advice – Stop working on trying to change the culture.
I’m a football fan, so I listen to the interviews and speeches of the NFL Hall of Fame inductees.
A typical interview question goes something like, “When you were a kid dreaming, did you dream of being in the Hall of Fame?”
The typical answer is, “Absolutely not. I was surprised to learn late in my career that I had the kind of results that qualified for the Hall.” The players relate that they dreamed of performance on the field. Making the great catch to win the game. Winning championships. Contributing value.
Five years after they retire, if they excelled at their position and racked up numbers that were near the top compared to other performers (indicating that they consistently excelled over a long period of time) they are voted into the Hall of Fame. They receive the recognition from their peers.
That’s what culture is. A recognition that a leader compiled the right people, put a great strategy in place, and consistently executed. This execution generated success and allowed people to do their best work.
Culture is a result.
It’s OK to dream of a great culture. But working on getting into the Hall of Fame is not what the members of the Hall of Fame work on. They work on their craft. If they’re successful they get into the Hall of Fame.
I advised my friend to stop trying to change the culture. Instead the attention should be on changing the process and the practices. Test the results. Show the value of the new way. Start mechanical. Work toward mastery. Teach. Learn. Have success. Lead the organization through the strategy change. Look at the culture later and see if you did a good job.
How do you think about the culture of your organization?
To do this week: Examine one thing you don’t like about your culture. Knowing that one year from now you will take the temperature of your culture again, what will you change now to have a different culture result next year?
Let me know how it’s goes. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.