We create the culture of our organizations by what we feed them. Organizational cultures don’t grow haphazardly, rather they are a reflection…of us and our priorities. And like giant tree mulching machines, they devour what we throw into them and spit it back out at us…spraying it across the organizational landscape.
Leaders must own their culture.
It is not enough to say that it is something that I inherited…created long before my arrival. People are not that interested in hearing what was…they are interested in what will be. Once the short-lived honeymoon period is over…for better or worse the culture of the organization is yours to own.
And with ownership comes responsibility.
For better or worse, leaders will reap what they sow. The culture you create will be reflected back to you through the actions and decisions of those within. Which is why leaders should not be surprised when a dysfunctional climate causes poor decisions and actions to incubate and exist.
Leaders create the conditions.
More and more we see leaders in our society willing to step aside, shirking organizational responsibility and ownership. Stepping away from conditions they have created…standing blameless in the aftermath. Leaders whose self-serving actions and teflon persona leave them personally vilified…champions of their own leadership.
And why not…why should the leader be responsible for the culture of the organization, inherited or not? Why should a leader be responsible for the issues that reside within the organization? Isn’t the leader just working with what they have been given?
All well and good in mental theory…yet, very thin words in reality, especially for those in the organization receiving them.
When we sign on to lead…for better or worse, it is a ownership proposition. Whatever honeymoon given…is and should be short-lived at best. Whether you are entirely happy is besides the point…it is yours to own. To cultivate, tend, and grow.
Ownership begs for integrity…integrity and character in responsibility to the climate and culture of the organization.
Our society is overwhelmed with transgressions…scandals, cheating, fraud, dishonesty, disengagement, and other issues that strike at the very heart of the character and integrity of the organization and their leadership. Organizations led by those eager and willing to step aside and assuage blame across the organization as they conveniently sweep it away from their doorstep.
We must acknowledge that the culture we create serves as the culprit for the results we receive…
Authentic leaders take ownership of that…even when the results are not what they expect or want. They do not wash their hands of responsibility…even when it is not their fault. It happened while they were at the wheel.
Leaders of integrity and character do not step aside when the bus is bearing down on their people, rather they step to the front…often taking the brunt of the force to protect those they serve.
And you can’t wash your hands from that.
“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” -Samuel Johnson