What advice do you have to CEOs to build a better culture?
David: I think the first thing you want to do is understand…you have to understand where you are and what the delta is between where you are and what you’d want to create. I think you have to be honest with yourself and do an accurate assessment of the current culture. Another piece of that is to understand your culture is not in your mission, vision, and value, right? Those are things that might point to the culture at best. At worst, they’re just, things that are actually completely counter to what the culture is, more often than not, and that just breeds cynicism. So it’s not those things and you’re assessing the culture, we need to look at, “Okay, is the culture coherent with what we’ve said it is? So, is coherent with our mission, vision, value?” That’s important.
What are the inherent beliefs, values, and ways that we are actually are with each other? What are the kinds of experiences that we have? Do we have a culture of accountability and personal responsibility? Do people show up on time? When there are problems in the organization, how do people address them? How do they solve them? Are they collaborative? Do they hide and protect? How do people show up in the organization? What are the kind of norms and what do we believe in, what do we value? Do an accurate assessment.
The next is to say, “Okay, what are those things we really love that actually make this place wonderful? And what are the things that are actually rewarding our ability to do our best work as an organization?” So you do a list of the positives and the negatives.
The third would be a creative vision of where do we want to go. What does it look like? What does it feel like? What are the types of people that we want on board? But more importantly, how are those people showing up? Right? And then saying, “Okay. Well, how do we create a set of new experiences and practices to drive in that direction?” And the best way we found to influence culture is actually set up routines and rituals, whether they’re things we do in every meeting, things we do once a week, once a month, once a year, once a quarter, etc. And the CEO needs to be the first person to fully embody the new way.
What would say is the key ingredient to kind of adapting and ensuring as CEO you’re really on track to creating the best culture, the best environment for your company to thrive in?
First and foremost, the thing for me was adopting a growth mindset across the board and being more committed to learning and growing than kind of putting on a front that I know everything and being right. And I think that that any CEO who is going to lead an organization through a lot of change has got to be willing to check their ego at the door and say, “Okay, I know what I know and I know what I don’t know and I don’t know what I don’t know. And I’m willing to kind of step into learning and growth and I want to create that same environment for my peers.”
And then the second piece really is being willing to and taking the time to listen, to ask great questions and listen to people throughout the organization, not just the leadership team.
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