I talk and write a lot about the importance of culture, and how it’s formed. Today, I want to talk about maintaining culture, which is something leaders seldom give themselves time to think about. You see, culture is created at the top, sustained from the bottom, and eroded in the middle of an organization. The people in the middle play a key role in making sure that the culture matches the vision of the team.
What is culture? It includes organizational behaviors, atmosphere, ways of doing things. And the tricky thing is that culture has a way of eroding on its own. It has to be maintained. You can have the best innovative ideas; the best possibilities; the best opportunities; but if your culture is not strong enough to sustain that, you won’t see your vision become a reality.
The middle sustains the culture by carrying out the vision of the top and leading those who sustain the culture at the bottom. They are the essential link in the chain. If they don’t carry the vision, no one will. If they don’t relay important cultural cues from bottom to top (and top to bottom), the leadership and those at the bottom won’t communicate effectively. The culture will begin to become fragmented, selfish, and toxic.
A toxic culture will eat vision for lunch. This is why everything is about culture. The culture of your organization will determine your success, your satisfaction, and your ultimate direction. Be careful what kind of culture you advocate for and allow; and make sure those in the middle of your organization understand and can cast that vision to others.