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When cultures are more like cults - and how to avoid it!

culture 9 Feb . min read

Healthy organisational cultures are often characterised by a common sense of purpose and shared values. However, most of us know a story or two of company cultures that go beyond this, and the culture more accurately resembles a cult!

You’re probably aware of examples of phony excitement and positivity for things that are at best, meh. Restrictive or rigid company or team values and goals can stifle diverse talents, encourage group-think, and limit problem solving capability.

It’s a real dilemma for those involved in organisational design and leadership. How do you create a culture that captures a shared purpose, but at the same time fosters the development of diverse talent and ideas within teams and organisations?


Authenticity
+ Involvement = Trust


Increasingly leaders and organisational development specialists are prioritising authenticity as the major tenet of building a healthy company culture and one of the best ways to build trust. But how can you make sure authenticity is at the heart of your culture, and more cool and less Kool-Aid? The answer lies in creating a climate of genuine trust. The question that every leader should be asking is how do I do it?


While every organisation is different there are some proven ways to develop authenticity, authentically!

If you want authenticity there must be genuine involvement in the design and development of the culture. This is not about giving those with the loudest voices, rein. Involvement is about giving everyone a voice, there’s no shortcut!

One of the most effective ways to build trust is to ensure people feel listened to and can see that their feedback is considered and acted upon.


Make this an ongoing continuous process and dialogue and focus on continuous improvement.


What does involvement really mean in the context of culture and leadership? In many situations the most courageous decision (and the biggest pitfall if not done!) is recognising that to involve people in the design and development of your culture, also means practicing shared leadership.


Today’s most successful leaders and those with the strongest company culture and employer reputation practice shared leadership. And why wouldn’t they? It leads to better organisational performance. Command and control is so last millennium!


It’s true that genuine shared leadership can result in greater complexity and less control, but the benefits of tapping into your richest source of ideas, and of people having more skin in the game, far outweigh the risks.


Whilst this is not the full extent of what can be done to create an authentic and healthy culture, using the formula, Authenticity + Involvement = Trust, tends to create a solid foundation to build a healthy culture and improve organisational performance through increased buy-in, motivation, and commitment.


At AskYourTeam we’re experts in helping our clients build cultures of involvement. Talk to us to find out how we might be able to help you.

Graham Flangan

Senior Business Development Manager

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