Friday Leadership Post On Creating a Culture

“We need to have a program that we import from a consultant in order to change the organization’s culture,” said a staff member of an organization to me when questioned about why do a program.

This week at the Safety Leadership Conference in Greenville, SC, the subject of a company’s culture for safety came up far more often than any technology discussion.

Culture is important.

Uh, what is it?

Well, it’s the way people in the organization do things. It’s how they act and interact. It’s the questions they ask. The things they focus upon. It’s what they discuss in the coffee room. Or–lack of all that.

Programs almost never work. I think that they never work.

Change begins depending upon what questions the leader asks. When the leader begins asking about safety at every chance (as in the case of the conference this week), then people are naturally going to begin thinking about safety. Not with the first question. But over time, everyone begins to realize what’s important.

In a non-profit (but also often in a business), one of the questions asked is “Can you help with this?” The leader defines a need, finds a person who appears to have the qualities needed to fill that need, and asks.

Organizations ponder how to get more volunteers. Well, have you defined the need such that people would know what they’re in for? Maybe you have to advertise for candidates, but often the best candidates will be referred through networking. You ask, who do you know, then ask the candidate can you help.

I remember at my first job in manufacturing, the president called at 3:35 pm every working day and asked the production manager, “How many did you get out?” So, sometimes the products went “out of the door” not completed so that the manager could report a better number. Even though the company prided itself on building a quality product, the question was never about quality. Always about numbers. Guess what was important.

As a leader, what questions do you ask?

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2 Responses to “Friday Leadership Post On Creating a Culture”

  1. josephruizjr Says:

    Questions are so powerful, I just bought Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith he talks about 6 questions that drive change. Those of us who are consultants need this reminder, DAILY (maybe more often) thanks Gary.

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