Category Archives: #WorkCulture

How To Fertilize Your Culture

If you think of a manure-laden farm, the picture you derive is probably unpleasant. The sight of dirty brown fields may be bad enough, but the awful odor that emanates will linger with you for quite some time.

Yet farmers put up with the gross and smelly substance because of the benefits it provides. However there are good and bad manures, and the wisest farmers know that bad manure can be toxic and harmful to plants, animals, and people associated with the farm.

As leaders, we need to discern the difference between good and bad manure. Manure in it’s very nature is waste, cast-off, an unpleasant by-product.

Yet in it’s purest form, good manure is rich and will allow people to grow and flourish in a very healthy way.

Some examples of bad manure in your organization may be:

  • Unchecked negativity and toxic behavior
  • Unrealistic goals and timeframes
  • Restricted resources that prevent tasks from being accomplished
  • Deliberate sabotage to prove power or advance agendas
  • Politics that derail the missions
  • Behaviors and procedures that are not congruent to the core values

As stated above, good manure can be healthy and allow people to thrive and blossom in ways that cannot be done without it. Think for a moment on these issues and what good benefits can be derived:

  • Ripple effects from toxic team or leadership leaving
  • Goals that stretch people beyond what they perceive as their limits
  • Limited resources (due to financial or procurement constraints) that challenge people to be creative and innovative
  • Threat of competition and loss of business and/or market share
  • Company expansion that brings in new staff and fosters internal competition
  • Openness of budget challenges that allow staff to find new ways to generate revenue and contain costs

As leaders we need to do everything we can to not hamper progress and growth in our people and organization. But we cannot keep them in an incubator free from any harm or disease – the reality of the world does not afford that.

Rightfully applied with positive intent, good manure mixed with great leadership will help grow your culture and people.

By managing the type of fertilizer that is spread across our teams, we can foster a rich and healthier growth in our people.

(image: pexels)

Book Review – Creating Constructive Cultures

Creating a company culture is one thing.

Identifying the right culture and making it a constructive one is another.

In their book “Creating Constructive Cultures”, authors Janet L. Szumal and Robert A. Cooke from Human Synergistics International outline what over 30 years of study have revealed in the various types of culture in the workplace.

They describe 12 “Cultural Norms” that exist in modern companies and within that dozen further define three styles that these norms fall into:

Constructive Styles – consisting of cultures of achievement, self-actualization, humanistic-encouraging and affiliative traits. These culture all contribute to improvement and development of individuals as well as the whole.

Passive/Defensive Styles – comprised of approval, conventional, dependent and avoidant cultures, these merely maintain and protect the organization and/or individual(s).

Aggressive/Defensive Styles – made up of oppositional, power, competitive and perfectionistic personas. Cultures of these characteristics make for a company that while hostile and/or forceful also finds a need to protect and maintain at it’s core.

What the authors portray is not just the explanation of each culture and style, but how these styles are met through varying global demographics.

Their studies show how different societal cultures can pervade an organization and work towards a default culture within that company. And that’s where the brillaince of the authors’ work comes to fruition.

Through a dozen case studies across the world, they show the cultural transformation from passive/defensive and/or aggressive/defensive company and demographic cultures and how each company found out their unique path to becoming a constructive culture.

Szumal and Cooke take the reader through each company’s journey of challenge, self-awareness, and barrier identification to the realization and actualization of a new improvement culture and the results in achieving a constructive model.

The book is well stocked with charts, case study notes and metrics that show the positive financial impact once the transformation was in place.

Creating Constructive Cultures is a great read and one that will make leaders think more on how to apply the right brand of culture that is productive, effective and sustainable.

(book image:; quote images: twitter @HSInternational)

5 Easy Ways To Lead With Integrity

Although integrity is a sought after business trait, it still eludes many leaders and organizations.

In 2019 the Global Ethics Summit sought to break new ground on business integrity. With more transparency and light shed on corruption, harassment, risk assessment and employee mental health, there is still a shortfall on meeting the basic standards for integrity in business as a whole.

Fortunately, that can change quite easily. If each leader could wholeheartedly adopt a few simple practices, and truly made this a part of their leadership DNA, without facade or pretense, we could quite possibly see a transformation in the workplace globally.

These steps of integrity may seem simplistic, but have a complexity of impact that cannot be duplicate apart from it.

Consider the impact these simple and powerful behaviors would have on your people, business associates and your organization:

Don’t Spread Negativity. In a fast-paced and competitive business climate, it’s quite normal to see people talk ill of others – colleagues, bosses, competitors and industry leaders. All in an effort to build ourselves up by tearing others down. we telegraph our weakness both individually and as a company. Instead, we should talk favorably about others, and work to differentiate ourselves in what we do best. It shows honesty to your customers, and shows others you respect their contributions in the company or industry,

Be Transparent. So-called conventional wisdom in business says not to admit mistakes, show weakness, or reveal a customer any concerns. This mentality inevitably leads to lying, cover-ups and blame-shifting. By taking accountability, and admitting errors, we can deepen others trust in our ability to lead and recover through good and challenging situations. Also, customers and employees are demanding more transparency in business, and leaders who embrace this through sharing information and being open book in all areas of their company will engender trust and longer retention of both your clients and team members.

Be Accountable and Set The Example. It’s not enough to walk the talk. Leaders need to talk the talk instead of passive aggressive suggestions, unclear expectations, and negative intent. What you tolerate in yourself as a leader is what your generate in your team behaviors. Also, making yourself accountable for your actions to peers and employees will help you stay aligned with what you profess to support in your cultural values. Examples and accountability go both ways, and as scary as it is to embrace this concept, it actually helps you to be a better and more purposeful leader.

Respect Everyone, Always. If everyone felt valued and respected in the workplace, lost time due to physical and mental illness would decrease, retention would increase, productivity would soar, and less errors would creep into the work. Employees and customers are pretty astute at sensing and knowing when someone isn’t truly respectful to them, so it makes zero sense to treat others disingenuously. People that feel truly respected and valued for their contribution and input will be more loyal to those leaders and companies.

Place Others Before Yourself. What if your customers and staff knew that you viewed them as the reason for your being in business, or being in the role that you’re in? That they are your purpose, not your means to an end? When a leader truly cares for their employees and their customers first, and not their pay, bonus or perks, they show a rare integrity level that is still not common. Just like Simon Sinek’s video about how good military leaders are trained to sacrifice self for others safety and security, business leaders can learn a lot about creating loyalty with integrity.

These steps of integrity may seem simplistic, but have a complexity of impact that cannot be duplicate apart from it.

If each leader could wholeheartedly adopt a few simple practices, and truly made integrity a part of their leadership DNA, without facade or pretense, we could quite possibly see a transformation in the workplace globally.

While our consumers and staff are looking for it, and our digital age is making our actions more transparent, one can make enormous strides in bringing change to the workplace in both the micro and macro environments.

(image; pixabay)

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