There is a direct link between culture and performance. While you may be thinking the culture can only really be affected (for better or for worse) by the CEO or at least the C-suite leaders in an organization, think again. Regardless of your level in an organization you have the power to impact the culture for the better. In doing so you are likely to not only create a better place to work, but also boost performance.
In How to Boost Performance Through Effective Leadership I talk about the 3 Key Elements that leaders who want to do great things must design into the fabric of their culture: alignment, engagement, and accountability. Everyone has the capacity to affect these three things in their organization.
In fact, consider that with every conversation you engage in and action you take you are doing one of two things whether you realize it or not: you are either reinforcing the existing culture or you are acting in a way that changes it. Of course not everything needs to change. If your organization has any level of success, the culture is part of the fabric of that success. Yet for performance to go to the next level chances are something needs to change in terms of alignment, engagement and/or accountability.
Consider that the path to changing the culture and in the process boosting performance can begin with you.
Here are 3 things you can do personally to lead the way:
Get a copy of the vision statement and anything supporting it that has been used in attempt to communicate it and meet with your work group to answer the question “what does this mean for me/us”?
Be the one to speak up. If you don’t know how, think no one will listen, or are perhaps even afraid get a coach or a mentor to guide you in designing a conversation that can make a difference. Just because you are choosing to be the one to speak up doesn’t mean you have to do it alone or without any support.
Find a way to get the people together who need to communicate to address the problems or complaints that aren’t being discussed openly. I know, there are a lot of “yeah, but..’s” that will come up in your mind trying to dissuade you from even trying. The question is if not you, then who?
Seek out someone you trust within the organization who you can ask to help you get connected.
Try getting to know your boss better – what do they care most about, how did they get here, what matters to them inside and outside of work. Yes, this is counter intuitive. There is a great wisdom in the saying “you can’t hate someone whose story you know”. Consider what you observe isn’t necessarily all of who they really are (or intend to be). If you don’t succeed at improving your working relationship you can always move on. Don’t want to get to know their story? You can always skip that part and simply move on.
Make an offer to be a part of the solution, or perhaps even to lead a team to solve the problem.
Be the one that gets to every meeting a few minutes early and/or the person who always starts and ends on time.
Let them know before it’s due (and they come looking for you) so they can plan accordingly. Maybe there is room for negotiation on the date or there is someone else who can lend a hand.
Own it without reasons or excuses. Do your best to address the consequences of your lapse.
This was originally published on Susan Mazza’s Random Acts of Leadership blog.
Susan Mazza serves leaders and their organizations as a Leadership Coach, Change Agent and Motivational Speaker. Named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders by Trust Across America in 2013, she is known for her ability to bring clarity to complex issues, as well as transform theory and ideas into effective action and results.
Susan can be reached via e-mail at susan at RandomActsofleadership dot com or by phone at (772) 539-7003. Or simply click here to submit a contact request.