4 “musts” for leading through times of change
There is no magic pill, button or wand that you wave that will quickly fix or treat the ails of your culture. We live in an instant gratification world where people/employees/leaders want things to change for the better immediately. They want the negativity, dysfunction and toxic elements of the organization to be eradicated overnight. But when it comes to your company culture there is no vaccine!
However, developing people and culture isn’t a drive-thru pharmacy. It takes time. It’s a process. It requires intentional rehab and development of how we show up as leaders and the culture we create with those around us. It takes commitment, discipline and focus.
Culture is dynamic which means it is being shaped moment by moment every single day by the way we Think, Act and Interact. Every member of your cultural ecosystem impacts the culture each moment and adds or detracts from the culture with their thoughts, actions and interactions. The best leaders and organizations realize that in a world that is changing quickly and where it is often easier to disengage, disconnect and become disillusioned or even disgruntled, they must have a proactive strategy to align the minds and hearts of their people.
The best team cultures don’t just magically happen, they are intentionally designed and led along the culture-shaping process. It’s not reactionary, it’s proactive. The best team cultures proactively teach, practice, rehab and work on developing the mindsets and behaviors throughout their ecosystem.
4 “musts” for leading your culture through times of change:
1. Name It — You must be able to name what is working and what isn’t working within your culture. Honestly. It’s not a time for blowing smoke or making excuses, the best teams have the ability to be honest with one another and name the very best of their culture and spot the areas that are troubling. Only after we are able to name the current state of our culture are we able to move the culture forward.
2. Define It — If you can’t describe the culture you are trying to create in the future than you can’t be surprised when it doesn’t exist. Language Drives Behavior. This is why the most successful and compelling teams and cultures have Values language that is clearly defined and linked to action and behavior. They have a vision for the future culture they want to create and clearly define the values they believe will guide them in that direction. Values become a compass for their journey not a poster on the wall.
3. Plan It — The word culture gets thrown around very loosely by many leaders and within some organizations and then only becomes talk. It becomes vague and the words do not line up with action. The best leaders and organizations realize they need a cultural strategy and plan of attack. Culture is not an “add on” to the work you do, it is everything. So what’s the plan?
4. Anchor It — Teams an organizations that lead significant culture change know they must anchor the values of their culture in everything they do. The vision they have for the future and the values that will guide them there become a living and breathing element for the ways in which they hire, onboard, develop emerging leaders, do performance evaluations, lead meetings and raise the bar on leadership throughout every level.
So, is your culture waiting for a magic vaccine or are you proactively rehabbing the culture you want?
The best cultures don’t just magically happen. They are grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality. The process for developing high-performing and engaged cultures never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to the continuous journey of development, vision, communication, engagement, authenticity, and action. The best leaders invest in their cultures and realize the health of the organization is an ongoing process that never stops.
At your next visit to your Doctor you’re welcome to get the vaccine, but for your company culture, remember, there is no vaccine for that!
About the Author:
Jason V. Barger is the globally-celebrated author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. As Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at