Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who feels your culture? Everyone.

You ever feel something before you see it? When culture is not "right" my antenna goes up right away.  I'm on high alert trying to figure out what is contributing to how I feel. I think most of us have the same experience, but after spending time in a given culture sometimes employees become numb to their surroundings. This can be observed on their faces.

Recently, I was invited to launch a leadership development process for an organization and after arriving my culture warning indicator began beeping.The President, obviously a passionate person, took the floor and began quizzing the leaders for answers.  For 10  minutes he drilled them with questions he expected they'd know and did not hide his frustration if they did not "get it right" immediately. Standing in the back of the room I chuckled out loud a few times amazed at his strong approach, but I noted quickly, I was the only one chuckling. The numbness had set in on this group. Or were a few of them feeling something else? 

Afterwards, the HR leader shared details of a poor performing leader with me in low tones, while members of the leadership team (probably peers of the leader in question) came in and out of the break room to get coffee...only a few feet away from where we were sitting.

Top leaders create culture, but they struggle to see the culture they are creating. The often miss that they are sending cues through their daily actions that permeate this culture. Yet, there it is, for all to see. Really want to know about your culture?  All you have to do is bring in an intuitive visitor and ask them to spend a little time and they'll tell you about your culture…if they are honest, and if you are really interested in the truth. 

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