No vaccine for that...

4 “musts” for leading your company through times of change

There is no magic pill, button or wand that you can wave to magically fix or treat the ails of your culture these days. We live in an instant gratification world where everyone wants things to change for the better immediately. They want the negativity, dysfunction and toxic elements of their organization gone overnight.

But when it comes to your company culture, there is no vaccine.

But developing people and culture is not a drive-thru pharmacy. It takes time. It's a process. It requires intentional rehab and development of how you show up as leaders and the culture you create with those around you. It takes commitment, discipline and focus.

Culture is dynamic, which means it's being shaped moment by moment, every single day by the way you think, act and interact. Every member of your cultural ecosystem impacts the culture each moment, and adds or detracts from the culture with their thoughts, actions and interactions. The best leaders know the world is changing quickly and where they can disengage, disconnect, and become disillusioned or even disgruntled. They must have a proactive strategy to align the minds and hearts of their people.

The best team cultures are intentionally designed and led along the culture-shaping process. It's not reactionary, it's proactive. The best team cultures proactively teach, practice, rehab and work on developing the mindsets and behaviors throughout their ecosystem.

The four “musts” for leading your culture through times of change, include:

1. Name It
You must be able to name what's working and what isn’t working within your culture. It's not a time to blow smoke or make excuses. The best teams have the ability to be honest with one another and name the very best of their culture. They can spot the troubling areas. Only after you can name the current state of your culture are you able to move the culture forward.

2. Define It
If you cannot describe the culture you're trying to create in the future, don't be surprised when it doesn't exist. Language drives behavior. This is why the most successful and compelling teams and cultures have values that are clearly defined and linked to action and behavior. They have a vision for the future culture. They want to create and clearly define the values they believe will guide them in that direction. Values become a compass for their journey, not a poster on the wall.

3. Plan It
The word culture gets thrown around very loosely by many leaders and within some organizations. It becomes just talk—vague words that don't line up with action. The best leaders and organizations realize they need a cultural strategy and plan of attack. Culture is not an “add on” to the work you do, it's everything, so make your plan.

4. Anchor It
Teams and organizations that lead significant culture change know they must anchor the values of their culture in everything they do. The vision they have for the future and the values that will guide them there become a living and breathing element for the ways in which they hire, onboard, develop emerging leaders, do performance evaluations, lead meetings and raise the bar on leadership throughout every level.

So, is your culture waiting for a magic vaccine? Or, are you proactively rehabbing the culture you want?

The best cultures don't just magically happen. They are grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality. The process for developing high-performing and engaged cultures never stops and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to the continuous journey of development, vision, communication, engagement, authenticity and action.

The best leaders invest in their cultures and realize the health of the organization is an ongoing process that never stops. Where do you stand?


Jason V. Barger is the globally celebrated author of “Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim” as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. As founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant. For more information, visit JasonVBarger.com