How To Revive A Culture

Every year, I attend the Global Leadership Summit. Over the last two decades, it has been a constant source of challenge, inspiration and encouragement. This year was no different. In the opening session, Bill Hybels shared some of his Hard Fought Leadership Lessons. Today, I want to recap one of those: How do you turnaround a culture?

Bill shared the process he and his team used to transform the culture of their organization. He challenged the 200,000 leaders participating in the Summit to do the following…
Assess The Current Reality – You may not be shocked by this advice. However, many leaders believe they are capable of doing their own evaluation. Bill believes using a third party to help with the process will come much closer to revealing the true state of the culture.
Own The Findings – Leaders cannot hide from the truth, nor attempt to explain it away. Neither can you just celebrate the bright spots and ignore the gaps. One more thing, you can’t delegate this project to Human Resources. Senior leaders are responsible for the culture in an organization. If the culture needs to change, it is the job of senior leaders to make the necessary changes.
Train People Managers – You cannot change a culture without highly skilled people managers. The research is crystal clear on this – people join organizations, they leave their manager. Bill’s advice: people managers must lead and love well… They must be trained to do so.
Increase Candor In Performance Reviews – Let’s face it, too many performance reviews are useless. The culprit is often lack of candor. To combat this, Bill’s team added a  Stop – Start – Continue segment to every review. He believes, and I agree, the best performance feedback is always specific. I loved the quote Bill shared from Jack Welch:

 “The kindest form of management is the truth.”

Resolve Relational Conflict – Bill actually presented this with more octane – I believe he said his team was “ruthlessly committed” to this issue. He challenged us all with the suggestion to reframe conflict. Most of us see it a threat to relationships. He challenged us to use conflict as an opportunity to strengthen relationships.
How’s the culture of your organization? Do you REALLY know? Maybe you need to take the first step Bill suggested and take a look. If the results are outstanding, congratulations! You and your team have reason to celebrate. However, if the assessment identifies any gaps, you’ve got work to do.
Enjoy the journey![GLS_Shield]

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Scott Mabry

8 years ago

Excellent points Mark. Especially where this process needs to originate (not HR) and owning the results. Thank you for sharing. Haven't been to the GLC in a long time but remember it as a great event and learning experience early in my leadership development.


8 years ago

Thanks for your comments! The GLC is still a great event after all these years - this was my 17th. Mark

Olusola Adeleke

8 years ago

The word of righteous is one,indeed the kindest form of management is the truth and the truth is not only expression but action in practices. Excellent thought


8 years ago

Thanks for joining the conversation! I love the idea of action in practices. Mark


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