There are a couple of analogies I can draw today. First, I thank God for a strong rental house. We are in the midst of a very rare winter freeze in the DFW area, and while this house is very old, and very drafty, it is good shelter! Sometimes, you just have to appreciate the basics.
Second, we are just a day away from one of the biggest events in Arlington history: the Superbowl, a testament to a team’s physical, emotional and cultural strength if there ever was one.
Leaders, like houses and sports teams, must hold up to the various weather conditions of life. They must provide the basic necessity of safety, security, shelter for their staff no matter what is going on around them.
Sometimes, the threat is from within. Cultures in organizations define so much about the success of the business. Leaders who don’t lead culturally miss a chance to shape and teach their people about the bigger picture. This is loosely connected to the “teach a man to fish” story.
If a leader can build a strong culture of safety and security in all types of weather, the staff will know what to do no matter what the circumstances. They will be equipped to handle the heat waves and the cold snaps. When it’s hot, and we’re doing well, and the product is flying out the doors, we can get lazy. In the cold times, when we can’t give the product away, we can get defensive. But if we are secure in our culture and strong in our purpose, we don’t have to fall apart in those ways. If we assume the best in our selves and our teammates, we can weather all the storms. This all comes from the example of the leaders!
Part of building the strong foundation is building the strong, positive culture. It sets the stage for how challenges are handled for all time. If you find that your culture has weakened, it can take years to repair, just as correcting a shifting foundation is a major endeavor. Maybe you’ve been so busy trying to keep your customers you forgot about your employees. Perhaps instead of looking for new sources of revenue you’ve spent all your time cutting operational expenses. Have you lost sight of the internal while managing the external?
Therefore, it is in your best interest to see to the culture of your shop daily. Pay attention. Dare I say it – eat in the lunchroom with the brown bag staff once in a while. Listen carefully to the stories of their lives. Hire well; hire to your culture.
Of course, this requires that you know the definition of the culture of your organization; and that you can articulate what it is and how it should feel. Do you have a culture of fun, play, excitement? Seriousness in purpose? Happiness in work? Or is it a culture of gossip and finger pointing? Clock punching and back stabbing? No one intends this to happen, of course. But it does, and it’s a silent killer just like the deep freeze.
Get help if you need it, because once the culture cracks, the wind can howl right in. The whole building can crumble. But if the culture is sound, the warmth can build and spread and grow – and your customers will feel it all around them. Most customers will be drawn to that warmth!
Copyright Sapphire Enterprises LLC