4 Executive Habits that Fuel Culture

You can’t outsource culture — it begins or ends with you.

Photo by Jose Lebron on Unsplash

A healthy, vibrant team culture will spit out a negative or controlling leader. Even if the person does some damage, a healthy group can bounce back and look for a more like-minded person to lead.

I know a team that survived a leader who thought he had all the answers. He lasted less than a year because he tried to create an island of loyal subjects in a sea of collaboration. He didn’t understand the need for adults to be curious, or reward learning as the currency of their team culture. He was outnumbered and left to find a better fit for his leadership style. This leadership culture worked like anti-bodies protected the body from harm.

Where does this resilient, collaborative culture come from? Simon Sinek describes organizational culture as values + behavior. Performance is the result of the values and rewarded behavior, not the cause. It’s always a work in progress that needs your attention. At the core, it’s a learning culture tuned into adults — on purpose.

I see a refreshing example of this each year at the Mid-American Association of School Superintendents (MAASS) Crown sponsors each year. These executive leaders are CEOs of multi-million-dollar organizations in their communities. This is a unique gathering that targets the deeper issues that matter most to executive leaders below the surface.

Since culture matters deeply to these members, it’s always part of the conversation. I love hearing members lean into discussion topics, and give practical insights to my “video comment corner.”

This year, I heard 4 Executive Habits that put jet fuel the leadership culture of MAASS members:

Where does this resilient, collaborative culture come from? Simon Sinek describes organizational culture as values + behavior. Performance is the result of the values and rewarded behavior, not the cause. It’s always a work in progress that needs your attention. At the core, it’s a learning culture tuned into adults — on purpose.

None of these can be outsourced… they all require YOU! Each of these big ideas has a few supporting points that add some detail to the 4 Habits.

1. Executive leaders make the biggest impact as the lead learner.

2. Listening & asking hard questions gets better results.

3. Words don’t have meaning — people give words meaning, so choose carefully.

4. A learning culture is in-side out, instruction cultures are out-side in.

+ + +

Which of these 4 Habits would give you or a colleague a needed boost this week?

You can’t outsource culture or hope it happens. It takes someone like you PLUS your inner circle to build and sustain a healthy, resilient, learning culture. Each of these Big Ideas is worth exploring on their own, so watch for an on-going conversation about these 4 Executive Habits mixed in with future posts.

Life is a team sport. Help your team experience an adult learning culture, so they can pass it on!

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Paul Berggren

I help people listen and learn from each other. As President of Crown Global HR, I bring clarity to growing and hiring people.