Elevating the Culture of Your Unit

Occasionally we have a great dream and set about to realize it.  We put in a lot of work.  Time passes.  Then, out of nowhere, a bit of feedback indicates the dream is becoming reality.  Recently I had this experience, and it elevates me each time I remember it.

Two years ago I designed a digital course called Becoming Who You Really Are.  It is a program of 100 three-minute videos.  Individuals sign up and then get a video every day.  They watch and then they answer three simple questions designed to alter how they behave that day.

An unusual feature of the program is that it has two objectives.  The first is for individuals to grow, to see, and to behave in new ways.  The second objective is for a group to go through the course together and to elevate their interactions so as to create a new culture.  Since culture creation is an elusive concept, many have difficulty conceptualizing the pursuit and realization of the second objective.

Many people are taking the course, and some large companies have adapted it.  Recently I received an unsolicited email from a participant.  She took the course with her boss and her peers, and she wrote of an outcome that surprised her:

“As we began, I appreciated the ‘bite-sized’ lessons that I could fit into my daily routine, and that it gave me a little something to consider over the course of the day or week.  However, I realized the true value once we were deep into the course.  One day, I was dealing with an issue between my team and a group of key customers.  When I started discussing it with my manager, I found myself blurting out ‘I need to figure out how to wash the flag!’  [This refers to a story told in one of the videos.]  In an instant, he knew what I meant, thanks to our shared journey through your course. We were immediately able to jump in to problem solving mode with a common understanding.  It was priceless!”

She goes on to say that the team now has a shared vocabulary and common points of reference.  They have discussions that lead to a better understanding of one another.  They have had what I would call elevated conversations about their collective purpose and many discussions about the differences between authority and influence.  Having had this surprising experience, she is now recommending the course as a tool for team development and culture change.

People generally accept the notion of leadership development but many do not understand they have the capacity and the need to change their own culture.  This is primarily done by altering how we interact, a major objective of the course.  It brings me joy to know this group is realizing that objective.

 

Reflection

  • How would you describe the culture of your unit?
  • What kind of culture do you wish to work in?
  • What are you doing to consciously change the conversations and elevate the culture of your unit?
  • How could we use this passage to create a more positive organization?

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