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Culture is like the air that we breathe. We don’t pay attention to it until it’s gone and then we’re fighting for it to stay alive.

Culture is that invisible force in the environment that generates patterns of behavior that can be positive and creative – or negative and destructive. As has been widely believed in the business world for years, you may think it is set and must be accepted as is – unchangeable.

That idea is incorrect. It is possible to change the culture of a workplace. It requires a commitment to work in a systematic process of change, not focused on groups, but individuals.

The commitment starts with you, the leader.

Systems Thinking

Step back and look at the big picture. In order to change organizational performance, you must step back and look at the big picture. It is big-picture thinking that is systems thinking.

Systems thinking is about recognizing patterns and looking for the trends that direct a business. This is a normal business activity in many areas such as accounting, sales, logistics and manufacturing. It also exists in leadership, but is less frequently used because the numbers are considered soft. However the nature and tone of interactions within the workplace have more impact than your strategy. How the strategy is executed determines its success.

Strategic Leadership

How often have you left a meeting thinking everyone was “on the same page” only to learn later that that was definitely not the case?

The same assumption, when applied to leaders in an organization results in misdirected and misguided efforts, behaviors – and results. Businesses track the waste and inefficiencies in many areas in their businesses, but don’t manage the waste in human capital and interactions – and the profound effect on the operational performance.

It’s like rowing a boat. If everyone is doing their own thing and heading in their own direction, no matter how hard they paddle, the boat may never make it across the lake.

On the other hand, if they work together with a single plan, align their oars and implement with purpose, they will cross the lake quickly and be ready for the next challenge.

Ask yourself, which boat is your organization rowing?

Ethics & Integrity

There may be many time-honored business practices integrated into your daily routines that are not supported by your own personal standards and values. They leave a sour taste in your mouth but that’s the way they’ve always been done.

You may know values-based leadership makes people as important as the bottom line. You believe that the means of doing business is not simply justified by the end result. The means – the process - matters.

As a leader you may want to work in an environment that is values-driven; and you are probably not alone in that desire. You just don’t know how to initiate such a change.

But you can.


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