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The Culture Challenge

Leaders set the standard. Recently, I read an article (excerpt below) that reminded me about the vital importance of leadership culture. This week, we’re talking about the culture challenge faced in leadership, and ways to overcome and transform poor culture.

“The culture inside the Nebraska locker room isn’t OK.

Scott Frost made that apparent during the bye week, when on his radio show he said there was a “portion” of the team not ready to play at Minnesota, where the Gophers blew out the Huskers.

He went all in and called out his team Saturday, saying his team is ‘just OK’ and that he’s not ‘going to be happy with just OK.'” (source)

As a fan of all things Nebraska, this has been a particularly painful football season. While most of the last twenty years has been a disappointment for one of college football’s most storied and proud programs, this one hurts deeply.

Why?

The expectations were different. The season was supposed to be different. The outcome was supposed to be different.

Year two of a coach’s tenure is supposed to see improvement. Year two of Scott Frost’s tenure at Nebraska, his alma mater, was supposed to be glorious.

Blog Post Title on background of workplace
The Culture Challenge

Instead, eight games into the season, analysts are reporting how the culture is, ‘just okay.’

Just Okay Is Not Okay

When talking about culture, on the field or in a company, just okay is not okay. Fighting okay is a big part of the culture challenge faced by leaders.

Leaders set the standard of conduct. They set behavior expectations, acceptable methods of social interaction, as well as the vision and direction of an organization. When someone, or a group of someones, fails to live up to those standards, it is up to the leadership to change the culture.

There are, of course, many ways to do this. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to unpack the importance of culture in leadership. We’ll examine how to create a new culture if you’re in a startup, and how to change a bad culture.

For now, here are three principles to use no matter what your current circumstance is.

1.) Set a Clear and Compelling Vision

Like a masterpiece painting, a healthy culture is a product of vision and hard work. Longing for a great culture and actually having one are two different things. 

As a leader, spend time intentionally investing in the culture and direction of your company, team, and surrounding people.

What does the workday “feel like?

How do people act?

What’s the end goal?

How does your department handle promotions? Confrontations? Missed sales goals or development targets?

If you can’t articulate your culture clearly and simply, it needs more work. Worse yet, if it doesn’t inspire others to be better, it will ultimately bring harm.

The goal is to articulate the what and why of the organization in a way that shapes, inspires, and transforms.

2.) Inspire Others to Greatness

Once the vision is clear and compelling it should inspire those that hear it. It should be a place where people outside of the organization say, “I want to work for them.

Inside the organization, there should be tangible feelings of joy, clarity, and a desire for growth. This doesn’t mean that people necessarily want to work longer hours, but it means that they want to work harder in the hours they do work. Why? Because their work has meaning and purpose. They know that they are contributing to something greater, something beyond themselves.

The goal is to call forth the highest level of character achievement and belonging.

3.) Take Immediate Action

Violations of the culture will happen. Eventually, someone will know that a tardy might go unnoticed and regularly start showing up late. Part of a healthy culture is dealing with problems that arise quickly, fairly, and with the goal of restoration. Discipline happens to correct behavior and hold the standard high, not to deliver punishment.

Tardiness is corrected not by docking pay, but by showing them what is missed or at stake when they fail to show up on time. Poor attitude with customers doesn’t mean demotion, it means providing better training to help them deal with the stress of other people’s bad attitudes. 

The goal is to restore the person to their own personal standard of morals, to the team, and to the vision and culture set in the company.

Transforming Culture

The challenge presented to Scott Frost is daunting. Not only does he have to instill his good culture, but he also has to overcome the bad culture he inherited. On top of that, he has to rewrite twenty years of poor standards.

For many of us, we face similar situations. Family histories, company profits, and personal standards all confront us on a daily basis. Some we inherit, others we create. All need to be transformed and redeemed.

Creating a compelling, inspiring, and consistent culture is not easy. But it is worth it.

LeaderQuest Podcast Episode 8

Welcome to the LeaderQuest Podcast Episode 8. This week we are talking about ways to bring passion and purpose to our work.

 

Work takes up a significant portion of our week. Add on to that family, self-care, hobbies, andlife’s unexpected moments and you’re probably feeling overworked.

But the problem is not really our work. While some may need to focus on working less (those chronically overworked includes those regularly working 50 hours a week or more), the much more likely scenario is that you need to bring more passion and purpose to your work.

Join Elise and I this week as we talk about this topic.

  • What does it mean to work with passion and purpose?
  • How can you cultivate?
  • What are some easy hacks to get the momentum going?

Don’t forget to join us live every Saturday on the #NextSteps Coaching Facebook Page. We do a live Q&A show, introduce our weekly topic and record the podcast.

 

As always, thank you for listening! I really appreciate it.
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Eye-Opening

The jarring blare of the alarm pries your eye-lids open and rips you into the land of the living.

What’s your first instinct?

The snooze button or the bounding first leap of a new baby gazelle?

Is your first thought, “Why me?” or “Why wait any longer?”

The way we set our mind first thing determines the much of the rest of the day.

Richard Whatley once said, “Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.”

Our mindset at the outset of the day determines our outcome. Whether we choose to attack the day or begrudgingly back into it determines how much we will get done.

And this has nothing to do with being a morning person or a night owl (but shout out to all my fellow morning people!).

Instead, it has everything to do with what we purpose in our hearts as valuable and worth investing in.

Our morning rituals have the chance to shape our souls, our character, our potential, and our enjoyment in life.

Habits on Purpose

Anyone who has worked with me knows we spend a lot of time talking about “habits on purpose.” Our morning rituals are no exception. Many of us waste large sections of our mornings instead of intentionally crafting them to serve us and help us reach our goals.

Two scenarios, which sounds more like you (be honest!):

“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will spend all day looking for it.” – Richard Whatley

Option 1:

The alarm goes off. After snoozing the alarm a time or two, you begrudgingly get out of bed. Saunter down to the kitchen and make a cup of coffee. After waiting for it to brew, you put on the television, drink the cup of coffee, and pray for “a few moments of quiet.” The (real) problem is not that these moments aren’t quiet. Instead, it’s that they aren’t productive or stimulating. After an hour of television and another cup of coffee (or two), you manage to scrounge up a quick (and mostly unhealthy) breakfast, rush out the door, only to wait in traffic on the way to work. You spend the rest of the morning wondering how you’re going to fit in everything you have to do.

After work, you might rush off to the gym, if you’re feeling up to it, stagger in the door, and eat a quick bite of dinner with your family. Some more television, and on the good days a few pages of light reading before a late-night Netflix series as you pass out into bed.

The weekends, only somewhat different. Instead of filling your days with work, it’s full of a week’s worth of overlooked errands and obligations. By the time Sunday ends, you dread the thought of going back to work, still tired, still behind, and still wondering where all your time went.

Option 2:

The alarm goes off, but you were already stirring. Gently awakening from a good nights sleep, you quietly make your way to the kitchen. After drinking twenty ounces of water to rehydrate your body, you then make a small cup of coffee and tip-toe into the den. Here, you engage in thirty minutes of intentionally designed habits that give you life and direction. Scripture reading and prayer, meditation, yoga, and a good personal development book are frequent habits. After that, you sneak off to the gym for a good thirty-minute sweat session. You return home just as the rest of the family is waking up. You’re fully awake, charged up, and ready to attack the day. You enjoy a good, nutritious breakfast with your family before heading off to work with purpose and conviction.

After work, you are still awake enough to get a few critical errands done, work on your side hustle, and enjoy another meal with your family. After dinner, you enjoy a myriad of activities together: movies, books, chess, or sports. Whatever it is, you’re excited by the purpose and direction you’ve given your life.

The weekends are similar. They are intentionally designed, purpose-driven, and leave you excited for another week to grow, learn, and serve new people.

Morning Rituals

I’m guessing you identify with one of these stories.

I identify with both.

For years, I would have firmly placed myself in option one. My life was chaotic, disorganized, and I was “average” (at best).

After intentionally taking steps to counter this drift, seeking out some great coaches, and getting a grip on my life and my purpose, I now find myself firmly in option two.

The difference along the way for me has been a lot of intentional habits and disciplines, specifically and most importantly, my morning rituals.

Now, they’re far from perfect. Right now, my morning habits are really broken up into to separate blocks. That’s the status of my work life right now. Eventually, it will happen in one chunk as I sense that will work the best for me.

So while I may not have my “ideal” calendar of morning rituals in place, I do have a target. I know what I’m aiming for. Otherwise, I’m like the boy learning archery who shot an arrow and then ran over to pain the bullseye around it. Instead, I want to know what the target is and then put all of my effort and talent into hitting it every time.

Below are the habits of my morning ritual and roughly how much time I spend on each one.

  • 20oz of water within ten minutes of waking up
  • 1 cup of coffee
  • Bible Reading and Prayer (10-15 Minutes)
  • Personal Development Book (15-20 Minutes)
  • Exercise (45 minutes)

Within the first 90 minutes of my day, I have exercised my body, brain, and spiritual muscles. I have found that this gives me focus, intensity, and purpose to my days. I’m still tweaking exactly how to flow from one activity to the next more smoothly but would love to hear from you.

What are your morning rituals?
What are your daily habits and routines?
How are you using your time to intentionally invest in bettering yourself at the start of the day?

Comment below!

Staying On Course

Recently I was on a trip and I loaded the destination into my phone’s GPS, and started driving.

I didn’t feel like I needed it at first since I know how to get out of my neighborhood. But it’s easier to do in the beginning than to plug it in while driving.

Through a series of short straightaways and quick turns, I soon found myself on the highway.

Stay on this road for 227 miles.

Staying on course means having discipline and eliminating distraction.

Immediately I had a knot in my stomach.

I knew it was a long trip. I knew how many hours it would take. I had even accounted for traffic times so I could make it as short as possible.

But there’s still something about seeing that number and the accompanying time frame that made me feel a tad frustrated.

Can you relate?

Why we need to practice staying on course.

Whether we like it or not, we all need to follow the advice to stay on course.

Trying a new startup venture? Stay the course.

Repairing a broken relationship? Stay the course.

Losing weight, changing your eating habits, or completing a degree? Stay the course.

Too often, we bail too quickly on our goals and never see real results. We hear the other dreaded word of a navigating GPS system: “Recalculating.” It means we’ve veered off course and need to get back on track.

Staying the course means eliminating distractions.

Staying the course means staying hyper-focused.

Staying the course means developing extreme discipline.

Staying the course means knowing what the end destination is, and refusing to stop before you get there.

Staying the course is not easy, but it is deeply rewarding. It is the only way to truly get to where you want to go in life.

The only way your side hustle becomes your main gig is by staying the course.

The only way you’ll have the body you dream of is staying the course in your diet.

The only way to have a thriving marriage, growing business, strong team, or financial success is by staying on course.

Your goals, dreams, visions, and plans for life are all at on the line. Don’t settle for anything less than reaching your final destination.

Stay the course!