The Lift Project: Leading for Transformation: Environmental Impact

Leadership often thinks vision, goals, mission and values. But what about culture? What kind of impact does one’s culture have on one’s leadership, organization and life? Culture was the emphasis of week 4 of the Lift ProjectLeading for Transformation. Organizational culture has been popping up more on my leadership radar through reading The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni as well as his talk at the Leadership Summit. A healthy culture invites people to bring their best selves to work, an unhealthy culture leads people to guard themselves and put in their time.

This week’s look at culture featured a great article from Mindy Caliguire and a  powerful episode from Defining Moments, a monthly audio journal that is a perk of being part of the Willow Creek Association.

Audio: Building a Culture for Authentic Spiritual Growth

In this Defining Moments hour long audio, Nancy Beach interviews Jim Mellado, president of the Willow Creek Association, and Dr. Henry Cloud. The image that stuck out for me in this interview was describing culture as in nurturing a garden. A great garden requires a gardener who works with a plan, with intention, and most of all with care for the plants.

To assess culture, one asks, “What does it feel like to be here?” If you visit a church, you can often quickly pick up on the culture. Is there joy and laughter? Does there seem to be tension in the air?

Another question that came up for me was, “Is this the place I want to be?”

For the culture we have built upon at Christ Lutheran, we have built a learning culture. This is not because we have a school, but a desire to be a place of life long learning. We have emphasized a mission culture that has led us around the world and more recently to make a greater impact of service in our community. Since starting the Lift classes, I have sought to be intentional in developing a culture of caring for one’s soul, and always have emphasized fulfilling one’s purpose. In the past year we have worked hard to be a generous culture as a congregation.

Henry Cloud referred to a healthy culture of “iron sharpens iron” from Proverbs. When Patrick Lencioni speaks of habits for functional teams, the one I remember most is “step into the conflict.” That has been a learning process for me. And yet I have discovered there are times when if I step in early enough, action can be taken to redeem the situation before it turns unhealthy.

When Jim Mellado was asked about how important culture is to hiring, he replied 70%. It’s one of my 5 C’s when hiring: Christ, Character, Chemistry, Culture, Competence. I look for all 5.

Article: Live Into It

Mindy’s article contrasted a church that can “look good on paper”, but step into the kitchen or the staff meeting or even the sanctuary and you can tell what’s actually happening.

In her article, I loved the quote from Edgar Schien, “The one unique role of leadership is to manage culture. When an organization’s culture is dysfunctional or maladaptive, it is the responsibility of the leader to break that culture and replace it with a new one.”

The ultimate path to a healthy culture begins with a leader’s healthy soul, then leadership’s, then dealing with issues of repentance and restoration. As Mindy writes, “If we focus on the how, the what has a much better chance of being accomplished.” 

You know you are on the right path, when you live into your culture. That’s why I bring life long learning into my life and culture.

The greatest take away from the article and from the Lift classes has been Mindy’s emphasis to “build a commuity, not just a team.” I have become a better leader through this process, and still have a great opportunity for continued growth.

Assessment: Culture Assessment

This week’s class also provides a follow up to the Defining Moments audio with 3 pages of assessment questions. Such assessment allowed me to look at where we are, is there where we want to be, even more where God wants us to be? I also appreciated the look at myself and the changes in me since becoming part of Christ Lutheran, and my answer focused on being more mission intentional and community service oriented. My contribution is a passion for life long learning, and more recently a stronger emphasis on soul care for myself and others.

How about you how is the culture of your church / organization? What is God asking you to bring to the table? How do you feel about where you are? And where you are going?


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