I was with a client yesterday discussing the culture of her corporation. She and other executives at her company are responsible for stewarding their culture. Several foundational truths arose from our conversation.
For a culture to be consciously shaped, it must be cultivated. Consciously shaped cultures require clarity of intention. Consciously shaped cultures accept where we are starting. Cultivation does not occur overnight. In a time lapse movie of an blooming flower, it almost appears that the flower is on a linear path from a sprout to being fully grown. What is cut out is the time in between growth spirts and the recessions. The flower obviously needs an appropriate amount of water at appropriate times. Weeding needs to occur. The process requires intention and caring attention. Another option is to clear cut the garden, buy some fully grown flowers, and plant them. This method will then be the signature of the resultant culture.
Imprinting Our Environment
How we lead and the emotions we lead from directly imprint what I am leading. If I am hurried, I will have a hurried culture. If I am impatient, I will create an impatient culture. Said, another way, how I lead and the emotions I lead from are the example of what I am creating. It is often called “leading by example”. To the degree that my examples are staged, static, and rehearsed, the less natural my culture will be. A culture that occurs as a natural environment will have had shepherds who operated with grace, care, and intention. And, in the moments where grace, care and intention were not present, how we respond then too will be imprinted onto the next stage of our environment.
There is an integrity of my intention, how I go about achieving that intention, and my result. If I am quick to point out flaws, the culture around me might be described as "picky". When I raise issues with kindness and rigor, we might say that we are "straight shooters". When I learn from others around me, others will foster learning conversations and our organization might be called a "learning organization". When I explain my thinking and what I am learning, and make thoughtful decisions, we might be considered "thoughtful".
Essentially, what are we trying to become? How would we characterize where we currently are? How do I cultivate towards our final goal in ways that are examples of that final destination?
My client and I left our conversation with a bit of pause. Realizing that the degree of unconsciousness we often bring to our actions. We are always creating a future. Is it the one we want?
Starting now, how can we be and what can we do that is in integrity with what we are shepherding?