In any crisis—whether it’s COVID-19, the 9/11 attacks, or the subprime mortgage crisis of 2007-2010—leaders have to act. Leaders need to act decisively and do what’s necessary to navigate through it. At the same time, leaders have to communicate. They need to explain what’s going on and provide their team with perspective.
Max DePree said that the first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. It is important for you to take the time to put the situation in context so that your team can properly interpret what is happening. Since you are the leader, they need you to act like the leader—and communicate like the leader.
Here’s how you can lead your team in a crisis by telling them what they need to hear.
I recently conducted a culture audit for a company that has an outstanding culture. This company has had a meteoric rise in its six years, especially considering the serious challenges they have overcome in their first years. But a surprising number of employees felt that they were being treated unfairly and that their colleagues were not pulling their full weight. And they would not have known that their employees felt that way without the audit.
I’ve found that the worse the culture at an organization, the less likely they want to do anything to fix the culture. It’s the companies that have a good culture—like the one I just did the audit for—that want to make their culture even better.
Ignorance about your company culture is not bliss. Here are three reasons why you should consider having a culture audit.
I attended a conference recently when someone asked me, “What exactly is a good culture?” That was a great question, considering that a lot of people don’t understand what it is or why it is important. And here was my answer: “Good culture is your team’s understanding of how they are to behave even when you are not around.”
Without that definition, it’s easy to ignore the impact and importance of culture. But when people understand it in those terms, they see why it impacts everything that their employees do. And they understand the precarious predicament they put themselves if they don’t take their culture seriously.
Here are five ways that a good culture benefits your organization.
Our society today has a self-leadership crisis. It doesn’t matter where we look—business, politics, entertainment—we see its effects.
The news regularly reports about the financial improprieties of business executives. Politicians get caught all the time doing something they knew they should not do. And the grocery store tabloid headlines are always proclaiming how such and such movie star is cheating on so-and-so.
Despite how little self-leadership is practiced today, our society depends upon it. Here are three practical ways you can exert your self-leadership.
My family once hosted a foreign exchange student at our house for about a month. When he arrived at our house, his first question to me was “What are the rules at your house?” Not wanting to sound like some kind of ogre, I said, “We don’t have too many rules at our house.” And I told him a couple of rules that we had in our house. And I thought that was that.
Over time, I noticed that he did some things that annoyed me. And my thought was “That’s really rude. Why doesn’t he know any better?”
I told him that I was disappointed with what he was doing. Later he told me, “You didn’t tell me what all the rules were.” Then I realized I couldn’t hold him accountable for something I didn’t tell him. He had asked to know what the rules were, but I didn’t tell him what they all were.
This same thing applies to your employees at your workplace, but they won’t necessarily ask you what the rules of your culture are. That’s incumbent on you to tell them. They won’t know how to operate in your organizational culture if you don’t tell them.
Here are the things you need to tell your people so they know how to follow the rules of your culture.
From all the culture analyses I have performed, I find it interesting that the vast majority of the organizations I survey have shortcomings in the same area. In my surveys, I look at how these organizations score in Appreciation, Morale, Trust, and Communication. In three out of every four organizations, the Culture Competency that needs the most attention is Communication.
I find it particularly interesting that this is true even in organizations with high scores. Even where organizations that otherwise have a good culture foundation still struggle with communicating effectively. And unfortunately, when the Culture Competency of Communication suffers, then all the efforts to build Appreciation, Morale, and Trust are undermined as well.
Here are five reasons why organizations have difficulty with getting the Culture Competency of Communication right.
Vision is a key ingredient for creating culture at any organization. Having vision is about seeing things that others don’t see. Then it’s important to use that vision as a rallying cry. Because vision paints the future as a picture everyone can see.
It is imperative for a leader to know where to lead the organization. In the process of setting that direction, other benefits are generated as a result.
Here are five benefits your vision generates for your culture.
Values are important to corporate culture. Companies go to great lengths to list these lofty sounding concepts. Then they put them on plaques on the wall in their lobbies. But values do not have any power unless those companies operationalize their values.
Simply listing your organization’s values is only the first step. If you stop there, then the list may have the opposite effect. If you do not operationalize your values, your team will likely laugh at them because they ring hollow. Unless operationalized, values will just be words on a plaque.
Once you have identified your values, here are four steps to take so you can operationalize your values.
Your emotional intelligence will be the most important skill in the workforce of the future. With AI becoming more and more a part of the workplace, humans will become more valuable for what makes them distinctively human. Your ability to work with other people will be what sets you apart from machines—and from other humans.
If you are not able to help people become better than they are now, then you may need to think through how you can increase your emotional intelligence. An executive coach may be exactly what you need.
A good executive coach will challenge you to think differently. The thinking that has brought you to where you are now is not the thinking that will bring you to where you want to go. You must be willing to shore up your emotional intelligence in order adapt to the new situations you will encounter in the workplace of the future.
Here are three ways an executive coach can help you grow your emotional intelligence.
In today’s business culture, can a bank attain great bottom line results without merging, acquiring another bank, or adopting a sales culture? According to Jay Stafford—President and CEO of Benchmark Community Bank in Kenbridge, Virginia—the answer is yes.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Jay. A Fredericksburg native, Jay married a Southside girl and moved to Lunenburg County, a mostly agricultural area near her hometown of Blackstone, where tobacco was once the primary cash crop. Although he has seen the area deteriorate over the years, he is very passionate about what he does there and wants to make a difference in this community. He knows that Benchmark Community Bank is one of the larger employers in the area, and if Benchmark went away, then the town would be severely impacted.
Jay said that 50% of his employees have been with Benchmark less than five years, not because of turnover but because of growth. He said their culture has been instrumental in contributing to that growth.
In his own words, here’s how Jay Stafford has grown Benchmark Community Bank and its great bottom line results through building the right culture.