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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)

The HD Leader

One of the most important responsibilities of being a leader is to train or mentor those in your charge to become greater in their role. It is a responsibility given to line managers, parents, coaches, CEO’s, teachers, and other various leaders in all types of organizations. However a survey of most of the training that is done shows a poor understanding of just how important the correct mindset needs to be in order to effectively develop others.

Why so many leaders and entire organizations miss the opportunity to effectively train and develop their people can be due to a myriad of legitimate reasons (such as time and/or budget constraints). Regardless of the rationale, what results is that the training falls far short of what is needed to develop people and move the organization forward.

Training is the process of duplicating a behavior, work pattern, attitude, or philosophy of thinking among other people. Yet there are many organizations do not put forth a clear picture of what they want people to learn, teach, or even foster. Their picture is fuzzy, out of focus, and sometimes greatly blurred for lack of vision.

Take if you will a copy machine. If you photocopy a drawing on a standard copy machine, you may not notice a very slight difference from the original. The lines may seem fairly crisp, but you’ll barely notice any discernible difference.

Now take that copy, and make a copy from it. So you have a copy of a copy. Then repeat this process over about 10 times, and you’ll see a noticeable difference. The latest picture probably is a stark contrast to the original. It’s not crisp, probably blurred, and is not the best representation of what you started with. As Michael Keaton’s cloned character in the film “Multiplicity” stated, “You know what happens when you make a copy from a copy… It’s not very sharp!”

It is claimed that people retain only 80% of what is properly trained. So even with the best standard methods of training, there is still a loss in replicating. So wouldn’t it make sense that the training needs to intensify?

The solution? Be an “HD Leader”. An HDTV intensifies the pixels which gives a higher resolution, clarity, and brightness. The HD Leader intensifies their culture, their expectations, and their behaviors to more crisply duplicate these traits. Here’s how it manifests:

Resolution. “Leaders don’t create followers. Leaders create leaders.” – Lou Holtz That’s what being an HD leader does. You replicate yourself, a leader, and not a fuzzy version of a leader. You train to the finest of detail (resolution) of what a leader is.  Have the attitude daily that you are raising future leaders, not workers.

Clarity. “You teach what you KNOW. You reproduce what you DO.” – Don’t just teach, don’t just show, but lead in the way it should be done. Show clarity and transparency in not only what is taught, but what is modeled. Do this consistently, as others will mirror your actions instead of your words.

Brightness. “If you want your people to be hot, be red hot. You want them to be red hot, be white hot.” – Realize the natural tendency to lessen will always be pulling. So counteract it be being an even more remarkable version of yourself. Shine brighter and get your people to shine brighter themselves. Intensify your thinking, passion, and character to ensure those around you will rise to the standard you’ve set.

So what about you? Do you have other methods of how to be an “HD Leader”? If so, please feel free to share your ideas. Then, go out and make a difference with them!!

(Hi Def logo courtesy of
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