Loving, Learning, Leading, Listening

Embracing Culture Change is a Choice: Leaders can make it easier

Published: Sunday, June 1, 2014

Did you get that memo about shifting the way we work?  Have you heard about how the company is focusing in on one mission in the halls?  Are you all in to make a difference for a better workplace?  Is your answer maybe, or I’ll believe it when I see it?  If so you are not alone.  Changing a culture is a monumental effort that takes the very essence of what we are today and breaks us with the intent of rebuilding.  Leaders must ensure that breaking existing culture is done with care while reshaping and molding the brighter future.

It’s a long term commitment

Changing culture takes time.  There will be heartbreaks and enormous success.  Great leaders plan and build for this period of change.  They choose the team that will make the long haul.  More so than the physical people it is the qualities that the team exudes that will make it through the breaking and remaking.  I am excited when I see a team assembled that looks nothing like their leader.  It is the leader’s job to communicate and bring the best out of their members.

Leading to make the right choice

The team will inevitably be made up of the following three personalities:

  • Those that have drank the Koolaid
  • Those that are “Doubters”
  • Those that are “Unbelievers”

Leaders have a commitment to see all three personalities thrive and make an active choice to change the culture.

Don’t water down the Koolaid

Leaders often forget the people who are bought in as the vision of culture change.  It is important to continue to communicate how valuable they are to sustaining a change.  Leaders must empower and reward for being good and faithful stewards of the cause.  By short changing those who are your best allies will turn them away.  It will be very hard to win them back if they feel abandoned. Remember, they have made a choice already to follow.  Continue to fuel their passion.

The Doubters just need more information

Leaders communicate.  Transparency and facts help bring along the doubting constituency. Like Thomas, who had to see the nail prints in Jesus’s hands before he believe, members may need to see the evidence of change.  Once convinced, these team members will now be advocates, because they have a firm foundation and see the progress towards a true change.  By not communicating, doubters will be lost.  Doubting will keep people on the fence and not move the dial to cultural change.

Unbelief creates the strongest motivator for change

Leaders will always have those around them that just don’t believe.  Great leaders don’t ignore them, instead, they listen with empathy.  Leader’s aren’t successful if they please everyone.  Instead, leaders that respect the alternative opinion, build muscles to evaluate and discover the best of all ideas.  Knowing the unbeliever’s opinion, also helps in crafting messages of encouragement and inclusion vs. criticism and division.

The Choice is yours

Whether you lead teams or influence individuals, you have the power of choice. A couple of practical actions everyone can take:

  • Demand transparency of yourself and your leadership.
  • Communicate to the Koolaid Fans, the Doubter, and the Unbelievers
  • Share in the commitment to make a cultural change personal and realize that becoming part of that change is your choice.
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