Peter Drucker once famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
Culture: the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society
How would you describe your school or organisation’s culture?
Positive, vibrant and exciting?
Demoralised, weary and fearful?
Or somewhere in between?
Leaders are in the process of continuous change, taking people on a journey. As the leader you may have an inspiring strategic plan, clearly articulated mission and vision statements, and effective systems and processes in place, but unless the culture is assessed and addressed, these grand plans will come to nothing, by “breakfast”.
Your culture is the most powerful factor in change, it determines:
- speed of change
- receptivity for change
- health of your people
- impact of your vision and mission
- effectiveness and influence in the long term
What’s floating your boat?
One of my favourite places over summer is Nielsen Park on the harbour in Sydney. It is the vantage point for the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race in December each year and I find it fascinating to watch the boats jostle for position, maintain speed and agility until the siren starts the race.
What does sailing and culture have in common?
There is an interconnection between each of these elements but the hull is what makes it a boat, and in the same way, it’s the culture that makes or breaks any organisation. None is culture-free. Without the hull, the other parts become the accessories.
Dr Samuel Chand* identifies the types of cultures that define an organisation and impact the ability to progress.
How would you describe your culture?
Inspiring: Sleek, fast, regatta-winning boat with prevailing winds
Accepting: Potential to do well in the regatta.
Stagnant: Becalmed and not going anywhere
Discouraging: Not a very well-maintained boat
Toxic: The boat may look really good on the outside, but is not seaworthy and actually dangerous
What do you need to do?
If Drucker’s famous statement is true, then a leader cannot ignore the prevailing culture, despite how exciting and innovative the vision and mission may be.
The place to start is under the waterline – building an environment of trust, respect and authenticity.
*Ref: Dr Samual Chand, Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code: Seven Keys to Unleashing Vision and Inspiration