Organizational Culture: What behavior does your organization inspire?

Most often leaders do not consciously create or intend on shaping a corporate work culture that winds up constraining or restricting organizational growth, in fact most leaders who are faced with the daunting task of taking on transforming the organizational culture have no real idea how they got to the place of dysfunction or unworkability in the first place. Reasonable leaders want to point to a person or a situation as the culprit, however in reality, it is typically a series of unfortunate events, coupled with Ego driven, inward focused behavior that takes an organization off track. Many leaders of growing organizations are often so busy working in the business and making the business successful, they miss the signs that a destructive culture is brewing or has been unintentionally shaped. Ultimately, it is the insidious, quick slivers of unworkable behavior that are created, tolerated and / or ignored in organizations that winds up thwarting the Executive’s strategic intentions and derails the overarching organizational vision. Executives, Leaders and Managers that buy into the 5 Double Edge Sword philosophies without actively connecting the dots to productive workplace behavior all too often wind up with organizations that promote and perpetuate the very behaviors that are incongruent with their core values and get in the way of accomplishing the mission.

Winning is an incredibly powerful motivator. The desire to win can move mountains and bring in profits, however, when the need to win overwrites better judgement, fragments and erodes core values, runs over people, and leads people to the brink of exhaustion Inside competitive work cultures, members are often expected to operate in a “win-lose” framework, outperform peers, and work against (rather than with) their coworkers. What begins with a healthy race to win in the marketplace often erodes into unproductive dog-eat-dog internal workplace behavior. This once healthy desire to “beat the competition” turns the organization inward and it begins to compete with itself. Winning at all costs, as value shows up in your organization by people arguing for win/lose scenarios, in-fighting for power, control, rewards, promotions and resources. In power-driven organizations, hierarchy reigns and members of the management team are expected to take charge, control subordinates, and yield to the demands of superiors.

Historically, Command and Control has been the ‘right’ way to lead and for many decades it actually worked. This model is flawed, however, and those managed by people who admire and enjoy this model atrophy and stagnate. In workplace cultures where Command and Control type of behavior is rewarded; the powerful take over and the powerless surrender. When leaders and team members are expected and even encouraged to power up over others, people in the organization often view themselves as pawns in the micromanagement chess game, or simply as cogs in the organizational profit wheel. They lose motivation and initiative and give less of their discretionary time to make the organization better. Commanding and controlling is a vicious cycle, and the only way out is to call it out, and inspire a new way to lead and a new way to follow. In oppositional workplace cultures there is often a root of overcoming obstacles that afforded the organization sustainability and success over years. however what often got us here will not get us there; and opposition is one of those elements of culture that turns the organization outside in and eats itself alive.