Several years ago my husband and I would frequently get in a battle.
He wanted to shop at a particular electronics store and I did not. Anytime he would suggest we go there I would plead with him to go without me or to go a few extra miles down the road to another store I preferred. I hated this particular store. It felt tired and rundown. Their staff, who were paid on commission, followed you around asking questions and recommending products we didn’t need. Everything about the experience felt awful to me. My husband was always amazed at the intensity of my dislike for this business.
What didn’t I like? In a word: Culture.
I did not enjoy the culture of this store and I avoided going there at all costs. (And apparently, others did too since they are now out of business.)
Culture matters. The environment you
create in your organization is either attracting or repelling. There is rarely
(I would say never) a middle ground. And as leaders, we set the tone for the
culture. We have to own it. We have to steward it. We have to set it and we
have to maintain it.
Culture is some of the most important work you will do as a leader but oftentimes it’s the thing we take the most for granted. Plagued by goals to achieve, staff to management, ministries to run and Board members to make happy, the last thing we have time for is the proverbial “fluffy” stuff.
I believe we are entering an era of leadership that makes culture more important than ever. As a younger generation of leaders joins us in the workforce, they are eager to be a part of cultures that align with their values and beliefs.
They don’t want to just work to make a living.
They want to work to make a difference.
I deeply believe that the culture of your organization matters. It matters for the people you’re trying to reach whether they are customers or congregants. It matters for the people you are trying to lead whether they are staff or volunteers. And frankly, it matters to you. Your life is too sacred to squander in an organization that drains the life out of you.
I suspect you are nodding your head in agreement. You get this. You believe in the importance of culture. You desperately want to create an extraordinary culture too!