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One of the most powerful things about culture is that it defines us and with certainty has the ability to discriminate. This is a positive thing as to build anything thing strong you must get the right people on your team which means there are some that shouldn’t be on your team. If they really are your team then they will adopt or already have your culture. Don’t be afraid to have some people that don’t want to work with you because of your culture. This is actually a good thing and they will be happier and more productive in an environment that supports a different culture.
So your culture will attract some people and repel others. I see this when I frequent conferences around the world. Often there will be many different nationalities present and often we know each other well. But after a few polite conversations people generally begin to congregate with people of their own culture. That’s because culture defines us, it makes us secure and it has its very own language and sound. Culture creates a sense of being at home or in the right family or circle.
Another interesting thing about creating culture is that your business, organisation or Church already has a culture. Either you have created it or somebody else has or will. He who creates the culture really is the leader regardless of title. So as the key leader of any enterprise you have a mandate to create a strong identifiable culture that sets you apart from others. You should never borrow culture from outside you should always create it from within and as the leader it is your responsibility to teach and coach that culture until it becomes a reality (see Creating Culture – Part 2).
A lot of people ask me how many cultures they should have and I suggest that they choose between three and five. Any less than three and you won’t distinguish yourself from others and any more than five and your team, staff, congregation will struggle to remember, implement and live out the culture. All of the great businesses and Churches that I am familiar with understand this and display that culture as a matter of habit. I was recently on a Virgin Atlantic flight and got talking to one of the attendants. I enquired of him as to what the culture of the airline was and how was this downloaded. He pulled up a stool and articulated very clearly the culture and values of the airline. He also went on to say that they get continual training in this regard.
So how important is culture? Well what culture is, culture grows. So the question is, what do you want to grow?
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