I was reading my most recent issue of Bloomberg Business Week, last week. And I read an article on the protests against the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. The photo had a protester with a banner that read, “A Strong Society Needs No Leader.” This stood out for me because I have been reading and speaking lately on the value of culture in our organizations. Specifically how if we spend the time to develop a strong culture, it can almost run itself.
I say almost because I have watched strong cultures erode and need to be refreshed. And while I am not sure we don’t need leaders I am sure that if we as leaders pay attention to the culture of our organizations we can spend our time out front of the organization instead of managing the daily grind.
How does one build a strong culture?
1. Orientation – When new members join the team there needs to be clear expectations. When we know what is expected we know how to move forward. And orientation can come from the stories about our organization, the training material, the length and detail of the training and so on. The more thought we put into this the stronger the orientation.
2. Practice or Drill – Our people need to learn and practice their craft. One way that I have seen that is effective and reinforcing training is internal audits that reinforce the training goals and objectives. It is like the martial artist that practices their Kata thousands of times until it becomes part of their muscle memory. We can drill culture in a similar manner.
3. Recognition and advancement – When you look at the military they do a great job of orienting their members, the drill and train to point of precision and then they recognize and reward individuals for achievement. Napoleon once said, “”A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.” We all yearn to be recognized.
If we spend the time and energy up front developing the culture of our organization we can take a vacation and it will run itself.