In several articles over past months, I’ve written about issues concerning your culture: how to build a high performance culture, how to stop the “weeds and bugs” from corrupting your culture and more. It’s time to go a step further by adding an exercise attendees to my Up Your Business 2.0 Super Leadership Workshop go through to deepen their understanding of this important issue. Throughout the class, I give attendees strong cultural definitions to weave into their dealership and weak cultural concepts to weed out. At the end of the two days, everyone leaves with the mindset and vocabulary necessary to tighten up their cultural foundation so that it fully supports their boldest goals.
Evaluate your own culture as you read over the partial list of strong vs. weak cultural words I’ve excerpted from the workshop. As you do, keep the following three facts in mind from my past articles on cultural topics:
1. Most businesses have multiple cultures under the same roof. In one department there is urgency, teamwork and results; but walk around the corner into the next department and the famous movie line “I see dead people” may be your first impression. More bad news: the strong culture is not as likely to uplift and inspire the weak culture, as the weak is to break the momentum of and diminish the effectiveness of the strong.
2. The culture is ultimately the responsibility of the leader of each department. There is no better way to evaluate a leader than by evaluating the people he or she has attracted and the culture they’ve created; both will either make or break results.
3. If you don’t shape culture to your liking from the inside out with the right values and standards, then society (and its values) will shape your culture for you from the outside in with its corrupt values. These values include, but are not limited to: entitlement, envy of the successful, the normalcy of immorality, hyper-tolerance and corporate forms of welfare installed to elevate the miserable at the expense of the successful.
Sampling of strong cultural words
1. Earn: to acquire through merit. To gain in return for labor or service.
Example: You didn’t get the raise because you didn’t earn it. You showed up, but you didn’t step up.
2. Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.
Example: You won’t get the promotion because you don’t deserve it. It doesn’t matter that you’ve been here longer than anyone else. The job will go to the worthy person who deserves it based on their performance.
3. Excellence: superior, eminent, distinguished.
Example: We measure excellence based on whether or not we are superior to what we used to be, not based on whether we’re better than another. In fact, we can be superior to competitors and still be worse than we used to be. True excellence comes with the consistent bettering of our former selves.
4. Diligent: to give constant attention to.
Example: We will be diligent in our consistent execution of right daily disciplines. We cannot become great by doing what is right only on occasion.
5. Responsible: Being the primary cause of something and so able to be blamed or credited for it.
Example: As a leader, I cannot take credit for all that happens in my department, and nor is all that goes wrong my fault. However, I am still responsible for the results of my team.
How are you doing so far? Do you have an earn and deserve culture, a drive for excellence, diligence in right disciplines and leaders who accept responsibility? If not, you have work to do; and I’ve only presented a handful of my workshop’s sixteen strong cultural words necessary for building a high performance culture.
Now take a look at the weak cultural components that you must weed out of your business in order to improve performance.
Sampling of weak cultural words
1. Excuse: a plea offered to excuse a failure.
Example: We keep missing our numbers because there is a shortage of talented salespeople in our area.
2. Blame: to hold responsible.
Example: I only sold six cars because of the economy, the weather, the time of year, the inventory, the used car department, because finance couldn’t get my deals bought and my manager doesn’t motivate me, the competition is giving cars away…and incidentally, all of this is George W. Bush’s fault.
3. Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.
Example: It shouldn’t matter than I only averaged five cars over the past ninety days; I’m should be entitled to participate in the monthly spiff programs because I’m a member of the team. I should also get an end of the year raise because it’s the end of the year, a Christmas bonus because its Christmas time and the house deal since I’m having a bad month.
4. Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.
Example: We’ve gotten successful, and as a result we no longer play to win. I still put in long hours, but I’m so content with results I no longer train, recruit, coach, or hold others accountable with any degree of consistency. When the bottom falls out again and the economy crashes, I’ll shake off my smug self-satisfaction and begin anew to work with urgency and drive as I return to the basic leadership disciplines that made me successful in the first place.
5. Denial: a disbelief in the reality or existence of something.
Example: None of the weak cultural words apply to my team or me.
Choose the strong words you’d like to reinforce in your culture, as well as the weak words that have taken root and weed them out. After all, building a high performance culture requires diligence. You’re not entitled to it; you’ll have to earn it. Complacency and denial may be your two biggest obstacles to reshaping your culture. However when you decide to renounce excuses, accept responsibility and not play the blame game you’ll take the first steps towards new levels of the excellence you deserve.