Reflections on Culture
The writing of this reflection comes from conversations introduced by Bob Dunham, Founder of the Institute of Generative Leadership. Bob is working with a team of leaders to shake up established discourses in the world in an effort to affect positive and sustainable change for individuals, institutions, organizations and the planet. Great big gratitude is directed to Bob for the work he has done to provide people the empowerment to create and cultivate higher qualities of life and aliveness.
We each have interpretation of what leadership is. Leadership, to me, is affecting change in a constructive way with a positive impact. In this interpretation, all who seek to shape the future in a positive and constructive way are leaders who can affect change. It doesn’t just come from CEOs or managers. Rather, leaders are individuals who have the ability to coordinate action with others and make offers to affect change for the positive. Leaders serve to take care of.
In the process of making new hires and building culture within my service organization, I choose to partner with those that I see myself learning from. A recent hire was based on my assessment of an individual embodying the ability to empower team members by helping each person coordinate together from that place of care. I heard this in the stories he told me about his background, I witnessed it in how he showed up and I received the assessment from his former bosses of his ability to navigate difficult situations from a place of care to move toward the future objective, rather than getting caught up in blame and creating discouragement and fear. The onboarding process is a critical part of the culture you build. (But that is for another conversation.)
In order to be a successful service organization, satisfying the market makes or breaks. Coming from the theme of taking care, there is a way to achieve 100% customer satisfaction as a team, each employee in a leadership role if interpreted as “ affecting change in a constructive way with a positive impact”.
There are certain traits I see that are critical in the theme of taking care for the sake of 100% customer satisfaction. Each person embodies certain traits which produces an overall culture. For me, a culture of ambition, collaboration and a willingness to fail is what provides that space to that pathway of flexibility and innovation in service delivery.
In order to create this culture, trusting that others have values and offers that are different from your way of thinking creates new possibilities. If you act as if you know everything and have all the answers, you are precluding the possibility of expansion. You are keeping the organization small in terms of offer, value and competency. There is also openness. Having trust and being open provides employees the space to experiment for the sake of coming up with best practices for the sake of achieving 100% customer satisfaction. This comes from the flexibility in knowing that what people see as value today, may shift one year from now.
Here are some of my interpretations and standards of the culture that we have been building towards at DESCO Medical Service. During the onboarding process and as a part of continuing education and ongoing dialogue, each employee is expected to embody certain traits. In order to avoid assumptions or misinterpretation I define what I mean in each area. Choose to use my traits and interpretations, or use this as a template to create the outcome you seek to produce.
Ambition - Being open to learning, positive in the face of things not working out. This is antithetical to “we have done that before and it didn’t work” mood of resignation and resentment. Instituting certain processes is a process within itself. Try, experience that something doesn’t work, try again until objective is met. This is in an effort to reach for innovation in service and to create standard operating procedures based on proven best practices.
A piece that is often missing is creating the practices and ownership in each role to create sustainability in the process. If there is talk about concepts and then no clear method to create the habits to do the practice, you won’t know if it works or not. Having a positive attitude that enters into the conversation in a way that looks at learning in the team and discussing what worked and what didn’t helps avoid making the same mistakes.
Collaboration - Working together for a shared future. It is not just about a paycheck within the culture being built. The ability to show encouragement for each employee to aspire in ways that are meaningful to them shows that you are taking care and committed to a collaborative culture. Settling is not conducive to a great quality of life. Supporting and encouraging growth is a part of this, as is demonstrating growth and development as the organizational leader. In order to live a life of wellness, aliveness and value, showing that each individual is a part of the bigger picture creates value and motivation.
You are demonstrating that collaboration is for the sake of each team member’s value, as well as the contribution each offers. This is not an obligation, but rather a purpose that each team member is serving. This is to enjoy coming to work and making work a source of pleasure, rather than anxiety and stress.
The question to invite your team into and to hold as a leader yourself is “how can what I do in my role create bigger opportunities in life, either for the team, my family and/or my community or even the world?” and “how can I leverage and build upon my contribution at work to have freedom to enjoy living a purposeful and powerful life?”
Willingness to fail - Providing space to try new practices in an effort to find the ones that work well. This means that there must be failure before success. You can interpret the many changes that didn’t work out in your organization as failures...and why not? It is most effective to avoid making the same exact mistake multiple times. Yet. each bump you have had, provides new insight that can serve to inform you in life changing ways. Every failure = learning opportunities. Failure is necessary on the path to success.
In the mood of taking care and in the mood of moving into a shared future, I invite you to enter into some exploration. What are some new conversations that you can enter into to create new possibilities for the sake of increasing your sense of joy and aliveness? Are there offers you can make, are there breakdowns you see that you are willing to be a part of addressing and establishing ways to set up practices and habits to really take care of the breakdown?
I invite you all to be leaders because change doesn’t happen from the efforts of just one person.
If you get stuck or need some coaching help, let me know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrea Bordenca is a mother of 3 boys, the CEO of a DESCO Medical Service, the founder of Lead Yourself Youth and a Leadership Coach. All leadership is a form of service, yet many leaders fall into sacrifice. If you don't ask for help, you are suffering needlessly. In order to affect change, support from others is needed.
Don't go it alone.