I can set the tone of something. I can create atmosphere ahead of an event or meeting. I can structure guidelines, expectations, and procedures. I can design the colors, the logo, principles, the outward branding. But even after all of that, I haven’t built culture.
That’s the disconnect. That’s where we miss the mark as coaches, as leaders. We have meetings and make binders and handouts, webpages, speeches, expectations and proclamations. We look the part, sound authoritative, and announce the tone and atmosphere. We believe that, surely in our actions and words, we are laying down culture. All our team needs to do is comply, right?
Culture isn’t a look. It’s not found inside a set of rules. It can’t be formed by making a mental image or stating it’s existence. It’s not in that color-coded binder of info you handed out. The actual and incredible depth of culture is still outside of my full grasp. Only as I continue to dig deeper and study it, do I realize it’s not a thing at all.
That’s right, Culture isn’t a thing. It’s everything. It lives, it feeds, it grows, it battles, it stretches and tests, and it falters and overcomes or it can overcome us.
Culture is the very deepest belief system inside of each person in your group. Those beliefs feed it, those beliefs can starve it. Your beliefs must be driving the culture. Your beliefs must transfer to your team.
Culture is formed by the heart that drives each person’s purpose. But it can also be formed by fear, doubts, or anger if that’s what’s behind the wheel.
Culture is contagious and it will shift, spread, change, and overpower with whatever is the most powerful or consistent belief.
Culture can reverse or change course without consistent direction. It can change for the good, it can destroy. It will find the path of least resistance without intentional reinforcement. It knows when words are empty, it knows when caring is fading or when it’s very real.
Culture isn’t “set” for a team. We can’t tell our team what sort of culture we plan to have or will tolerate. We can’t tell them what sort of culture to make for us.
But we can set our beliefs, we can build a mission together as a team. We can care about that mission and about each other. We can believe in the greater good of our purpose and we can starve our negativity and fill those voids with heart and service.
We can set a tone and an atmosphere where our culture can thrive. We can build a philosophy that reinforces our belief system. We can watch for shifting of culture and redirect it.
Culture is the heart and soul of every person, the sum of every belief and every purpose that comes together to reach a common goal. Are you ready to build your culture with as much or more dedication than your speeches about being a family or putting the team first or wearing matching socks because “that’s what forms unity?”
Are you ready to build something real, alive, and so incredible that no obstacle can break it?
The more I learn about culture, the more I know I was clueless. Every season is another chance to be better leaders, not just better talkers. Every chance to build something more meaningful as a leader, is an opportunity to do something greater in this world.