Culture Change for Performance Growth

I encourage you to consider the essential core human values needed in your organizational culture in the next five years. Allow this to enlighten your leadership.

The essential question of anyone “thinking in teamwork” is, How can we do this better? Implicitly, you know the prerequisites for excellence and mastery are alignment of (1) purpose, (2) goals, and (3) human behavior. You can test this formula in your own experience: Something in you just knows you are on the right course if (a) there are inspiration and clarity in the mission, and the aspirational vision is intrinsically worthy (not cynically or selfishly rationalized); (b) if the primary goals clarify what the mission requires; and (c) if the human work experience generates and supports the height of human potential!

The power model for organizational excellence is an alignment of mission, vision, goals, and values. It is simple, yet it is challenging to do effectively.

What is simple is the geometry of human excellence. We naturally seek it, orienting with inner guidance to the straight line of alignment (mission-vision-goals-values-behaviors), and the arc or circle of relationship (collaborative teamwork with an inspiring purpose and core human values). As a leader, and as consumers of leadership, it pays to understand this natural, organic inner connection. A lack of alignment feels imbalanced, disconnected…unfair.

Well-conceived strategic plans provide mission-vision-goals guidance. It is challenging to clarify the essential core values and to change the culture and human behavior accordingly. Yet, the heart of human GPS has to do with core human values. These are taught in religious studies, in history class, in stories of masters, heroes and saints, and in the elder wisdom of our family conversations.

To perform more effectively, we seek a culture change that begins with values clarification. Values clarification through a democratic process is necessary for the age of personal digital technology and hyper self-regard. The key questions: Given our mission-vision-goals, what are the core human values that enable organizational brilliance? Will human values help us do our purpose far better than we are doing it today? What is the culture we are seeking to support our excellence and mastery?

As one obvious illustration, many years ago I learned about core human values through the Boy Scout Oath, which contains three promises: duty to God and country, a duty to other people, and duty to self; in the Boy Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent; and in the Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared! Your illustration is a notation for your core human values – your personal GPS.

When workplace challenges intertwine with personal and economic hardships, predictable personal insecurity, or lousy leadership, then the inner GPS needs a reset. Sometimes, the tricky part of pursuing excellence is discovering the key is not the example set by the people in nominal authority. Instead, the key is for leadership initiative to occur courageously from around the team table and throughout the company culture, to support the organizational purpose, guided by essential core human values. Yet, it can take a lifetime to realize this and work out the appropriate geometry, while constructively questioning authority.

The challenge of regaining and maintaining the geometry of excellence succeeds because of each participant’s leadership initiative, manifesting to support excellence and culture each day. Values clarification begins with each participant considering these questions:

  1. In a perfect world, how would our culture be? How would people behave in ways that promoted our human motivation and brilliance? How would you wish for the culture to operate, given our mission, vision, and goals? Be very practical and detailed in your description.
  2. In the past year or two, how has our culture supported and obstructed excellence? Here, concrete examples are valuable. Nothing is gained by avoiding the truth.
  3. What core human values are essential to support our excellence, given our purpose?
  4. How can we hold ourselves accountable, monitor our culture, and make adjustments that maximize our effectiveness each day?

There is consciousness in a culture that supports each participant’s excellence, promoting honorable action to achieve a worthy purpose. Clarifying and implementing essential core human values can be life-changing – or performance elevating, at the very least!