The Leader Creates the Culture

A friend of mine, Shawn, went for an audition recently. He sings, plays the guitar and leads praise and worship at his church. The audition is for a similar position at another church. Afterwards he shared with me several immediate observations he had during the audition experience.

The first word out of Shawn’s mouth was that the audition was, “fun.” Who doesn’t want to have fun at work? Shawn went on to say that you could tell that there was a relaxed atmosphere and that if you arrived nervous you left calm. He also mentioned that you felt comfortable and accepted. There was a positive atmosphere. “They actually helped you in the audition,” Shawn said. People were encouraged to return for the next audition if things didn’t work out this time. There was an expectation of a high standard of quality set from the very beginning and everything that Shawn encountered from the first contact, including the written materials, told him what the culture was all about in this church.

Not surprisingly, Shawn mentioned that during the audition they discussed the values of the team and the church as a whole. It was valuable that this church knew what they valued.

It didn’t matter that it was a church. It could have been a bank, a pet store, an automobile dealership or a fast food restaurant. Leadership in this organization had taken the responsibility to define the culture based on a set of values.

I know of too many organizations where the atmosphere is pure stress, it is not relaxed. In an atmosphere of stress, people are limited and have trouble reaching their best. There are many situations where the expectations around attitude, excellence and relationships are not defined, poorly defined or where subpar behavior is allowed to exist.

What difference does a positive environment really make? It makes all the difference. Shawn said, “Even if they don’t call me back I know the next time that I should go try again.”

An Accountable Leader is always encouraging their people to move forward. This positive attitude can and should become an integral part of every organizational culture. Leaders have impact and influence and they do that in their organization through their values and the culture those values shape.

Leadership is responsible for that environment, that culture. It’s what the leadership does consistently that matters. The people will do what the leadership does consistently. They will follow the leader.

People will flourish when they are in an environment that wants them to thrive. If that environment doesn’t exist there is probably an insecurity on behalf of the leader. The Accountable Leader is always putting their people first, pushing their people to discover abilities that they didn’t even know were present and always wanting their people to move up.

The Accountable Leader is always concerned about that environment, that organizational culture, and they never stop defining the culture, teaching the culture, protecting the culture and celebrating the culture. The Accountable Leader creates the culture.


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