In times of trial and triumph alike, fighting the good fight and working for sustainable and sustaining success demands a strong anchor and rudder… our strength of culture. We suggest character is the basis for same. It builds powerful resourcefulness. This week in class, teaching Organizational Behaviour to students at the College of the North Atlantic, we are exploring the building of strong cultures.
Cultures are made up of two levels ultimately.
First, culture is essentially our shared and actual beliefs, values and assumptions. Second, it is represented by our artifacts… language, stories, rituals and symbols. Strong cultures get clear on those shared beliefs, values and assumptions beyond simply putting them to paper. Strong cultures then ensure that the artifacts reflect and reinforce the desired culture so that it is truly palpable as an experience for customers, clients, colleagues and all constituencies. A strong culture is the essence of great branding and reputation. It is real and trustworthy. Integrity rules reputation.
That being said, our work, inspired by the 5 Strategies of The Virtues Project™, focuses on going beyond behaviour to help build character driven, united, and resourceful organizations and communities around the globe. We are all about building strong cultures of joyful excellence.
The 5 Strategies, alluded to above, are key elements of building such cultures. Consider…
THE FIRST STRATEGY
SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. Language has the power to discourage or to inspire. Using virtues to acknowledge, guide, correct and thank awakens the best within us. Language is a powerful manifestation of culture. In our engagement with one another as part of the team in a school, youth center or college… business, workplace or community… the language of the virtues is nuanced and focused. We can and should incorporate the virtues into our language with colleagues… expressing, more clearly, what we see as our strengths as a culture. Once it is named, it can be claimed. This is part of our work in bringing rooms together… exploring and celebrating our individual and collective strengths of character. Naming them so we can claim them. Language is a driving force in building any culture. Building strong cultures is served with character driven language to articulate our best strengths for which we want to be known.
THE SECOND STRATEGY
RECOGNIZE TEACHABLE MOMENTS. Recognizing the virtues needed in daily challenges helps us to become lifelong learners open to the lessons of character. Teachable moments is not a new concept, but here we speak of it around the application (or lack thereof) of the virtues. In evaluations of our team, if we were to start at strengths and challenges at the level of character, we are digging deeper. We are finding our best stories. Identifying both strength and growth virtues goes a long way in adding foundational clarity to feedback. Recognizing moments of character is more resonant, not unlike the plucking of a string on a guitar or harp. When we look at moments of trial and triumph alike with the lens of character, we go deeper than behavior. Behavior results from character. Character has permanence and is the soil from which behaviors grow. As we discover our stories and learn more of and develop our strengths of character, stronger and healthier behaviors take effective root; the kind of behaviors that build strong and resonant cultures.
THE THIRD STRATEGY
Set Clear Boundaries. Boundaries based on respect and restorative justice create a climate of peace, cooperation, and safety in our homes, schools and communities. Ultimately, this is about identity. Identifying our lines in the sand is a process of exploring our most cherished identity. Having conversations around this, at the level of character, gets us connected in stronger ways. Setting clear character driven boundaries goes beyond and deeper than codes of conduct. We are taking on codes of character, identifying who we are at baseline, what our lines in the sand are… and how we can constructively address and redress them with our colleagues and teams. Knowing who we are, what our deal breakers are, and how we restore our sense of justice… all through character… can help build a truly healthy understanding of how we collectively roll.
THE FOURTH STRATEGY
Honor the Spirit. We sustain our vision and purpose by integrating virtues into our activities, surroundings, celebrations and the arts. This is about the rituals and symbols. This one is about honor and respect and engagement. It is about honoring our own spirit, honoring that of others… and honoring the collective spirit. This one builds powerful bridges and the “social infrastructure”. Having clear language and a sense of ourselves and others with whom we work… it allows us to see the strengths in others; and value them. Creating our spaces, individually and collectively, is part of that honoring of our spirit. We encourage real and engaged discussions, exploring what would foster spaces honoring same; advancing strong and caring cultures.
THE FIFTH STRATEGY
Offer Companioning. Being deeply present and listening with compassionate curiosity guides others to find clarity and to create their own solutions. It supports healing and growth. Companioning is about being present and listening. Winston Churchill once said, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” This one fosters connection, engagement and leadership… and builds cultures of trust and trustworthiness alike.
We weave these strategies throughout our work in business and organizational leadership and development. We continuously find that they powerfully resonate for the youth, adults and teams with whom we work. Consider these strategies and how they might affect advancing a strong, united and character driven culture that is resilient and striving for joyful excellence.
It is worth the look.
Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™
Our work is all about character. We work hard and joyfully to help build character driven, united and resourceful organizations and communities around the globe. As part of that work, we offer you …
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