Culture change: It starts with one!

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Corporate Culture



Turning a culture around is very difficult to do because it’s based on a series of many, many decisions, and the organization is framed by those decisions. Howard Schultz


The term culture is often used to describe a set of beliefs, actions, and norms. Creating a positive culture eludes many organizations looking to differentiate and retain top talent.  Organizational leaders know they were successful when it just “feels” right.


It is often said that “it takes a village to sustain a culture,” but positive change can start with the actions of just one person.


Case in point.


A while back, I worked with a manager who took great pride in her ability to see the best in her team and in her co-workers. Often, she would go out of her way to recognize their efforts. She also reached across the table to collaborate with cross-functional departments to minimize silos and create organizational cohesion.


With a group of co-workers, she started an internal council whose main focus was organizational unity and service. Her passion for the big team fueled the success of this new group, allowing them to make a big impact on the hearts and minds of their co-workers. Many of her co-workers would stop to thank her for all of her efforts and let her know about the impact she was making. One told her, “Please keep doing what you are doing, you are making a difference.” Culture change was happening. It started with the actions of one person.


Below are three immediate ways any one person can be a culture change agent:


  1. Remain positive


In the case of the manager above, she chose to remain positive in the face of daily challenges. She always had a smile on her face.  She would see the best in others, and try to bring out great things in the organization. Other leaders would come to her when they wanted a solution that would involve the larger organization and not just the few.  In short, she was a positive force for change.

  1. Be unrelenting


I have noticed that the people who have the most impact on organizational change are unrelenting in their vision of what is possible. They do not see roadblocks as permanent barriers. Instead, they are constantly seeking ways to remove any obstacles that can impede that vision. If you want to be a culture change agent, create a vision that everyone can support and never let it go.


  1. Inspire a big TEAM mindset


Cultures where everyone lives by a “what’s in it for me” mentality cannot be successful.  If you want to become a positive culture change agent, inspire others to think about the organization as one big team. Those who focus on what is good for that team will move the organization forward in ways someone with a narrow mindset can never do.


Using the manager I described above as an example, she always helped organizational leaders focus on the big picture. In meetings, she rarely used “I”. Rather, she used “we” when describing next steps. She went out of her way to gain consensus and make sure she listened to everyone’s perspective. She also made wins about the team and not about what she accomplished. She inspired a big TEAM mindset. People loved her for it.


Wrapping it up.


Embarking on positive culture change can be overwhelming. It does not happen overnight. While it does take a series of purposeful actions by many different people, it can start with just one person; one person who is committed to remaining positive and forwarding thinking; one person who is unrelenting in holding onto an inspiring vision; one person who inspires the individuals within an organization to put their desires aside for the good of the whole.


Thank you for reading this post. Remember that anyone can be a culture change agent. If you found this article helpful and want to read more about this type of mindset, pick up a copy of my book, The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty.

The 7 Intuitive Laws of Employee Loyalty

Also, please share this post with those who you think might benefit from its message.


Cheers to being a culture change catalyst!

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