A recent Catalyst One Day conference featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel reminded me of one of the best (and challenging) leadership talks I have heard. Although it was several years ago, I pull this one out from time to time to reflect and evaluate the culture I am helping to create. I took careful notes in order to share it with my leadership then and now with you.
Gather your team and walk through these tried and tested truths. You might even want to unpack them one at a time…
5 Inescapable Truths of Organizational Culture
by Pastor Andy Stanley
(Notes by Tom Pelt)
Culture: That set of unwritten rules that determine how a people in an organization act, react, solve problems, treat people, live out expectations, approaches… the stuff that makes up the personality of the organization.
Culture incorporates Values: For example, excellence is a value. How we express (apply, live it out, etc) excellence creates our culture. Culture says, “This is how we do it here.”
Culture impacts how people carry out and focus on the vision/mission. It is difficult but EXTRAORDINARILY important to embrace cultural change.
Reality: Every church has a culture. What is ours? Describe it in 3 words… _________________ _________________ _________________
Truth 1: Leaders shape the culture whether they intend to or not.
Leaders either adapt to the present culture (become invisible) or create culture (change agent).
What is the driving force of our culture? God may be blessing… but what is He blessing and to what end? When you are sure about this, protect it and promote it at all cost!
Truth 2: Time in erodes awareness of.
If you aren’t intentional, the longer we are in leadership the less aware we are of our culture (how we appear to others).
These first two truths compound one another. You have to build into your culture ways to stay aware. i.e. Guest Ready! For example… new staff/guest evaluations and “Main Event” reviews.
Truth 3: Healthy cultures attract and keep healthy people.
Unhealthy people (i.e. consumers vs. producers; self-absorbed; negative; critical; tradition-bound; power-brokers; “needy” drama kings & queens, etc) are attracted to unhealthy cultures. Healthy people have a low tolerance of unhealthy cultures, and they just leave. If we really want to be able to minister to unhealthy, hurting people, we must constantly strive to be healthy people in healthy environments.
1 – Unhealthy people (Consumers) are drama oriented & healthy people (Producers) are “get-it-done” oriented.
2 – Unhealthy people are self-focused & healthy people are others-focused.
3 – Unhealthy organizations use sideways energy and are busy, busy, busy… with little productivity (and wore out, uninspired leaders). Healthy organizations are others-focused (making disciples) and use forward energy, resulting in high productivity (and energized, inspired leaders!).
Truth 4: The organizational culture impacts the long-term productivity of the organization.
Territorialism is replaced by collaboration. Red tape is replaced by simple systems that empower people. Feelings don’t get hurt and leaders don’t have to walk on “eggshells,” killing momentum and productivity again and again… and there is healthy growth!
Truth 5: Unhealthy cultures are slow to adapt to change.
The churches that grow the fastest and are the healthiest are those that are NOT focused on their church members. (NOTE: This is assuming you have created healthy discipleship environments and processes for your members). An unhealthy culture is generally focused inward, on itself and their back is to the marketplace. An unhealthy church resists change. Healthy churches seek outward focused, forward moving change and can act, react, morph, adapt and create in a high-energy environment. Members needs are cared for as, together, they share life and care for others.
“Does this really matter?” YES!
If our productivity is tied to making disciples and impacting a culture with the Gospel of Jesus Christ… then intentionally growing from the inside-out into a healthy culture eternally matters!
Notes: What spoke to you? How can you identify these truths in your organizational culture? Share at least 2 examples or take-a-ways…