From monk to COO, Jay leverages behavioral, operational & EQ intelligence to help leaders & their teams win more. WinThinking.com
Shen is an aspirational CEO. He believes his people should figure out how to do their jobs on their own. He did. His leaders do. Why shouldn’t they? Many in the company are new — less experienced, skilled and confident. They need more direction and support than they’re getting.
Shen doesn’t see he has a fragmented us-them culture. Seasoned executives can work on their own. Others can’t yet. What’s the cultural fallout? Sixty unexpected hours spent by his directors to correct mistakes workers shouldn’t have made. The Shen Show has become a boring circus act.
Rosalinda is a chief client services officer. To grow client billing, she has to work across different service arms: accounts, analytics, finance and marketing. These teams aren’t reacting fast enough and creatively enough to keep demanding clients happy.
There appears to be cross-team collaboration. But there isn’t. The hidden issue is a passive internal cultural voice that says, “We’re here; just let us know what you need when you need it and we’ll help you, but you’ll have to tell us because we’re not mind readers.”
What’s the cultural fallout impact of this passive wait-and-see culture? Two major clients have already left their circus tent. Billable losses are beyond $10 million. Teams are blaming each other. Disillusioned star performers are packing up their acts and leaving.
Marco is a frustrated CEO. As an entrepreneur, he knows it’s on him to create new blue water revenue streams for the product company he’s founded and run for over 10 years. Revenues have been flat for four years. Marco can’t do what he needs to do because his people aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.
The cultural dysfunction starts with Marco. The ringleader won’t step back to allow his people to step up. He’s overcontrolling his leaders. They’re overdependent on him. They focus on what he demands, not on what the business needs. The cultural impact? Flat growth. Falling client billing. Dropping revenue. No safety net.
Shen, Rosalinda and Marco face six cultural issues holding success back:
1. Culture isn’t doing its job.
2. Performance is mediocre.
3. Leaders are removed and clueless they’re the problem.
4. No one’s getting the results they need.
5. They all blame their people.
6. Nobody’s listening to the warning signals their cultures are sending.
When we see beyond the noise, we see the everywhere-ness of real business intelligence. In noise, we lose sight of what matters most: understanding people first; analyzing excel patterns later.
Intelligence lies as much or more in leveraging behavioral and emotional information as it does in data analytics. Understanding how behavior and emotion impact performance is how situationally aware leaders lead their people to lead themselves. They get the difference between knowing what’s critical and criticizing behavior.
Smart, behaviorally focused, business-intelligent leaders pay attention to those closest to the problems — to uncover what can be done better tomorrow than what continues today.
When workers are seen more as talented contributors and valued producers, most will step up to show up more like that.
When cultural values continually signal, encourage and promote useful, quality-results-focused action, culture is doing its job.
When it doesn’t, we as leaders aren’t doing our job and our people won’t be doing theirs.
Culture speaks truest when it gives voice to others. Culture speaks best when it repeatedly signals and reinforces what’s needed for success. Culture speaks worst when it loses its voice. Then expressions of purpose and dedication are silenced. In neglect, people and quality are neglected.
What do you honestly know about your culture? Have you thought about it lately? Would it make sense to? If so, quickly kick-start your thinking with these 11 considerations:
1. If your culture could speak to you, what would it say?
2. What could it tell you it needs to better do its job?
3. Is your culture in touch with what it needs to do in order to do the job it needs to?
4. Are your leaders in touch with your culture enough to leverage it better?
5. Do you know why your intended culture exists, or have you forgotten?
6. Does your culture remove growth obstacles or create them?
7. Whose job is it to ensure your culture works the way it should for everyone?
8. When was the last time you benchmarked your culture and its effectiveness?
9. Is your culture working with you, for you or against you?
10. Are you working with your culture, for it or against it?
11. What else could you and your leaders be doing to create a culture of quality?
Assessing your culture’s asset value isn’t hard. It just takes thoughtful planning and organization.
What’s hard is getting beyond the noise to be thoughtful enough to understand what’s needed to get your culture back on track to better execute on your strategy.
To increase your return-on-culture (ROC), give these seven actions a shot:
1. Ask people at all levels if they’re getting the specific direction and support they need.
2. Determine how performance and accountability standards are supported by your culture.
3. Define the culture you want in three to five short sentences. Ask your leaders to do it, too.
4. Identify the quality gap between the culture you have and the one you want.
5. Determine specific actions needed by whom and by when in order to get what’s wanted.
6. Decide what right successful behaviors and motivations look like for all roles.
7. Partner with HR to create a communication plan that brings your ideal culture back to life.
When your culture empowers your people, your people power up their work and each other.
Leaders don’t need to be engineers to understand why signal-to-noise ratios are critical for success. Culture transmits signals. That’s its job. Ignoring signal quality gets the noise.
Culture at its best is a transformational, driving-force voice. At worst, it’s wall art.
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