October 12

Culture – an intangible tangible



Photo by Helena Lopes

Culture is about the collective you: what you do, why and how you do it. Underlying all that are the beliefs, habits, biases, and expected outcomes of what your culture helps produce. Your culture creates a quietly powerful reality that most leaders and followers accept with a sense of permanence and inevitability. It operates fluidly but does not change its fundamental nature. It has many moving parts. It can be unified across the entire organization, or fragmented and driven by multiple goals, styles and agendas. All of that is intangible; it defies being measured as a series of line items or data points in any report. 

The tangible aspect of a culture emerges from the fact that we can look at our measurable achievements – our goals and our overall financial performance over time – and connect some dots between what we have achieved (or failed to achieve), and the construct and performance of our culture. We can determine to what extent our cultural norms helped or hindered us in being who we want to be and getting where we want to go. 

And most people never take the time to analyze, understand and act on those nuanced elements of culture.  

More often culture is seen as either unchangeable or somewhat changeable, but with great effort over a long period of time. These are myths, often perpetrated by people that obstruct change but need a good story to make themselves look good in the process of impeding growth.

So, culture takes on the character of something that just IS. And because it IS, it is often not considered when people formulate strategies and goals and create the plans and tactics needed to achieve them. If you’re lucky, your culture will align with your strategies. Your execution will not be impeded by cultural beliefs and behaviors that run contrary to your goals. If your culture and your strategies are not aligned, you’re screwed before you even begin. 

Cultures CAN be changed. Outmoded, dysfunctional beliefs that can put you on a path to irrelevance CAN be discarded and replaced by a new set of values and behaviors that will make your culture adaptable to current and future needs and opportunities. 

Instead of embracing that challenge, however, we do “work-arounds” to adjust to the dysfunctional behavior of various people. A different set of standards have been established for sacred cows, such as: family members of owners or senior executives; people with hard-to-replace subject matter expertise; high performers – especially in sales; people with political connections that are deemed “untouchables;” or people with seniority. All of those compromises, made to deal with the “specialness” of certain people, ALWAYS prevent the organization from operating and achieving at its full potential. ALWAYS. 

What level of compromise have you accepted? What price are you paying? Are you willing to change that?   

By Bill Leider, Managing Partner, Axíes Group



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Book Reviews

Mastering Your Balance

Amazon Book Reviews

D. Thurman April 7, 2021

The areas of balance required to perform as a top level organization are lifted from the almost unconscious to the very conscious in Mastering Your Balance. As a business and executive coach I see business leaders mostly consumed 95% if the time with near term issues. A perpetual game of Whack-A-Mole.

Perhaps, getting the various elements covered in the book in play and more importantly in balance these leaders would have far less moles to whack, and therefore much more time and energy available execute on their greater purpose.

Shane Willard April 21, 2021

Bill & Jason get it. Having coached thousands of businesses and business leaders their insight is invaluable. They beautifully weave Vision, Values, Culture, Strategy & Purpose together into actionable steps any leader can implement. As they say, no matter how good one is at these individual elements, without balance greatness will always lie just behind your reach.

The 'what-would-it-take' concept in Chapter 2 makes you peel back the excuses and think creatively. "To achieve the impossible you must first envision the improbable."

At its core, this book serves as a blueprint for each vital element necessary to achieve success and balance organizationally (and personally). It reminds leadership where they need to focus.

Joe Fera April 1, 2021

What would it take to shatter your limiting beliefs and lead your company to heights only dreamed? Read ‘Mastering Your Balance’. Bill & Jason have demystified the ‘Dark Matter’ of great leadership and great organizations and boiled it down to highly actionable and implementable elements. Aha moments abound!

LR March 31, 2021

Mastering Your Balance answers the question and is a must read and reread for any organization daring to go from good to great! Mastering Your Balance shines a much needed light, drawing our attention to it, causing us to remember it's significance. More than words, we are reminded that a carefully crafted mission/vision statement is the organization's North Star.

Severin Sorensen March 24, 2021

As a business coach I'm always looking for books to inspire the human mind, and give direction to business owners seeking to raise their performance in the great game of business. Mastering Your Balance is one of those books. The authors are experienced in the art of giving profound advice to their clients.