What’s your definition of organizational culture?
Yesterday, in our Kind Leader Guided Book Club session, we talked about the definition of culture I created for The Kind Leader book: “Culture is the way that things are expected and allowed to be done around here.” Although you may be familiar with many more complicated definitions, when you boil it down, the expectations that leaders create for “what” is expected and allowed, and “how” people are expected and allowed to act, react and interact is what it’s all about.
No matter what type of “culture” leaders say they want their organization to have, if they don’t clearly define and then model the behaviors they expect, and turn away from and ignore behaviors that don’t fit those standards, the culture will simply reflect the behavior they allow. For example, if a company's values say that people are expected to treat others with respect, but leaders turn a blind eye and 'allow' team members to belittle others based on race, sexual orientation, or for other reasons, then the culture isn't one of respect, because disrespectful behavior is 'allowed' to continue unchecked. It's not only that leaders need to "walk the walk" and model the standards of behavior they expect, they need to "talk the talk" and deal with behaviors, and people, who don't live up to those standards.
So many people are suffering from mental health issues, and struggling in organizations with toxic cultures. So many are refusing to put up with being treated unkindly, unfairly and inhumanely, that they are leaving. If you are a leader, and that’s the case in your organization, please take some time for reflection, introspection and observation. Look around to see for yourself if what’s really being expected and allowed is a culture that is healthy and kind for those who are in it.
If it’s not, what are you going to do to change it? Because unkind leadership creates and allows unkind cultures, and Kind Leadership leads to kind cultures!
If you'd like to learn more about how to create a kind culture, please join us for ORGWell 2022, where we'll be focusing on psychological safety, mental wellness and kind leadership.