Culture

What I learned over my Christmas vacation

This holiday season I found myself afflicted by a condition known as “TV binge-watching.”  I received the 5-season DVD set of The Wire, and from the first episode of season one to the final episode of season five, I was hooked.   Having completed all five seasons, I am now going back through the discs to replay the episodes that have commentary from the producers, directors, writers and actors.  I am fascinated to get a tour behind the scenes from those that deliver this magnificent body of work.There is so much to apply from The Wire to organizations, teams, leadership, culture, and performance.  I was curious to know if any universities were using The Wire and found that, although for a slightly different focus than organization development, The Kennedy School at Harvard uses the series as a case study on the urban inequality in America’s inner cities.There is one point that I would like to address that was raised in commentary by the writer of Episode Two in Season Three, Richard Price.  If you have not watched the series, in short, The Wire explores the drug war in the city of Baltimore, MD.  Across the five seasons the drug trade is examined through the lens of the police, port system, politics and government, educational system, and press, respectively.Each season is fraught with ideological, structural and interpersonal conflicts that the organizations, teams, and individuals must find a way to work through or past in service of achieving their goals.  Examples at the organizational level alone include the police vs. the drug syndicates, city vs. state government, and schools vs. the school board.The point Price makes is that part of what makes the series, and life, […]

Strategy and Culture Should Meet For Breakfast

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  The following essay was recently published in a collection of essays curated by the Executive Learning Exchange in a book titled, “Learning Beyond the Classroom: Producing Competitive Business Reesults.”  The essay can be found in the Strategy section.
Please considering purchasing the book which is a collaborative project to create a relevant and actionable collection of poignant lessons learned, directly authored by learning and talent development thought leaders.  All proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit RightStart4Kids a 501c3 nonprofit organization that focuses on initiatives to help children globally start life out right from the start.
Strategy and Culture Should Meet For Breakfast
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is attributed to Peter Drucker, an influential thinker on modern management theory and practice, but is it true?
If strategy is most broadly defined as “where we are going” and “how we are going to get there” it provides vision and a plan. Strategy does not speak to how to engage people to execute against that plan. That happens, in part, by helping them understand “how we do things around here,” or the culture. Great leaders, enabled by great learning organizations, create culture that will drive business performance.

So does culture eat strategy for breakfast? Strategy cannot be implemented without regard to culture and culture without strategy is equally doomed. It is rather a paradox where both culture and strategy are required for success. Success is found when the two are aligned.

At Hospira, the arrival of a new CEO created an opportunity to examine culture and to reinforce alignment between culture and strategy. The then-new CEO started using language to describe what he was looking for; behaviors he thought would drive success. The language he used […]

Words Matter

I attended the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit last month and was profoundly inspired, both personally and professionally.  To learn more about this event, please visit the Willow Creek website.  I am dedicating several blog posts to my reflections following this thought-provoking experience.  Last week I asked the question, What kind of leader do you want to be?  One who is striving to leave a legacy, one who is striving for personal advancement and reward, or one who has stopped striving based upon the conclusion that there is nothing meaningful to strive for?

This week, I am reflecting on the power of word choice and the impact that a small word here or there can have on how we operate in the world.

“No yet vs. “No”

Erica Ariel Fox, author of Winning from Within, shared a story about a time when her young step-son was struggling to learn a new skill —tying sailing knots.  When she asked him, “Are you able to get those knots tied?” he responded, “Not yet.”  How many of us when asked if we are able to do something that we are struggling with would simply say “No.”  “No, I can’t tie the knots.”  “No, I can’t balance the budget.”  “No, I can’t find someone to fill the job.”

What if we replaced “No” with “Not yet.”  How much more hopeful does that sound?  “Not yet” leaves open the possibility that we will overcome whatever we are struggling with.  I can’t do it yet, but one day I will be able to.  It is just a question of time, energy, commitment, resources, practice, confidence….

“Get to” vs.”Have to”

This one is simple!  What if we approached every day by thinking, “Today I get to ______,” versus […]

Building A Culture One Coaching Conversation At A Time

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  For the past several weeks we have focused on some of the challenges and opportunities of leadership: the dark side of performance differentiation, how leaders show up during turbulent times, and how leaders can build culture through coaching.   This week I want to continue the discussion regarding how leaders build culture, focused more specifically on building a culture of personal accountability.

Culture has been defined as “how we do things around here and what we value.”  Leaders signal what they value by how they spend their time and what they focus on.  As such, I think the questions that leaders ask as they walk around and engage with employees are critical. Additionally, how they respond both in the moment, and over time, to what they hear during those walk abouts will influence culture.

One of the questions that leaders are taught to ask in order to show concern and to connect to the front line employee is “what can we do to make your job easier?” Maybe the question that leaders should be asking to drive cultures of ownership and accountability is “what are you doing to improve your ability to do your job, and how can I help?” Firstly, is it the job of a leader to make other people’s jobs easier?  Some jobs are tough! Secondly, is it the job of the leader to identify those things which will improve the ability of the employee to have impact and deliver value?  Finally, once employees have identified their needs, perhaps it is the job of the leader to wherever possible help them meet those needs.  And when it is not possible to deliver on what people have asked for, how can the leader coach others to accept […]

Great Leadership = Culture of High Performance?

Welcome to JoinDrPam.  The blogs for the last few weeks have been dedicated to questions about leadership, and the great impact that leaders have on driving performance excellence.  This week’s question is, “Does great leadership always lead to a culture of high performance or a magnetic culture, as Kevin Sheridan, author of Building A Magnetic Culture would say?”

Certainly a great leader has tremendous influence over the culture for a particular team or segment of the business…what some refer to as climate. But what if a great leader, who might create a great climate for his or her team, is operating with (1) unmotivated, low accountable people, or (2) within an organization that creates barriers to creating a high performing team or culture?
Payday Loans In Gaffney Sc

Teams are made up of individuals, and all individuals are not created equal in terms of their commitment to be high performing and to deliver results. Even a great leader cannot motive people to perform if it is against their will to do so, as motivation is an internal drive that develops within a person and not from external drivers. Once someone is motivated or committed to perform, a great leader can (1) understand and leverage what motivates them, (2) create an environment or climate to make the most of their desire to contribute, (3) tie what motivates them to the needs of the business, (4) manage organizational roadblocks that will interfere with their ability to contribute and (5) reward those that are already committed and motivated to contribute and succeed (external reinforcement).

#5 above is the one that can create a dilemma for leaders, depending upon the corporate reward structure, and how much autonomy the individual leader has for allocating […]