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All organizations have goals, no matter what the size. Sometimes they’re clear, sometimes not.

But when the organization gets large, the employees rarely find the goals to be motivating. Instead, they often revert to the lowest common denominator: What do I have to do to keep my job?

This drives leaders nuts.

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Culture is a powerful concept in business, identifying the way people actually work together to get stuff done. It’s connected with other larger cultures, of course, including the community, society and country we live in.

Individuals also bring their own micro-culture — how they interact, communicate, make decisions, and so on.

But here I’m focusing on the culture we all share in our organizations. Our key processes interleave with the way we work together as people. We’d like to think that they’re in sync. When they’re not, everyone gets frustrated and the processes don’t work well.

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When inspiration lights you up, the impact can be unstoppable.

I had the chance recently to speak with Gary Nickell, founder of Scott’s Roofing in Colorado. They do commercial and residential roofing work, so not exactly what you might consider a leading edge, fancy industry.

And I have to admit it’s an industry without a great reputation. We can have some severe hailstorms around here, so every year we have numerous people contact us about assessing hail damage – even when there hasn’t been a storm. Many of those people aren’t based here, and may just disappear with your deposit.

Unfortunately, many home maintenance services have this kind of reputation.

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You may be asking people to make tough sacrifices right now. Reduced hours, changing jobs, making tough decisions.

You’ve thought a lot about it, so you’ve laid out the new plans. Letting every person know what they need to do and how.

But this is missing a key element: Why?

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Wouldn’t it be nice if plans always worked? But they don’t.

The problem, of course, is that Reality continues to do what it wants, despite the best planning. It sure would be nice if the rest of the world lined up the way I want, but rarely does it work out that way.

So why bother? Why not just spend every moment just responding to whatever’s thrown my way, with all the cleverness and energy I can muster?

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Like most people, my values have changed quite slowly during my life. I can identify a few distinct places where values shifted – like when I graduated from college – but it’s not common.

As I’ve aged, I’ve become clearer about what my values are – but it’s more about learning who I am, not becoming a different person.

When you’re looking to hire great people, this is a critical observation.

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PLANNING IS FANTASTIC, but it has one big problem:

Reality gets in the way.

You go to all this work to create the fully robust plan, to get everyone on board, even to test various scenarios. It’s wonderful! But the plan was put in a binder on the shelf, never to be opened again.

Why is that?

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PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS STRIVING for improvement. And visionaries paint an attractive picture of the future.

Leaders are the ones who can make the connection between the two.

The challenge is to pick a vision which is attractive, believable, and attainable. But you may have discovered that each of these is squishy, with lots of room for challenges.

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2017-10-23 Hiring for culture or values.jpg
COMPANIES HAVE BEEN TALKING FOR YEARS about the importance of culture fit when hiring a new employee. But we’ve now discovered it can be a big trap.

When someone fits well into your culture, it means that they’re pretty much just like you. Which then leads to a homogeneous company, stifled creativity, and stagnation.

Not that you want to hire someone who hates your organization’s culture. But … you do want to stretch it.

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YOUR PRIMARY VALUE as a leader is to give people direction, to align their work in order to achieve the large goals of the group.

But that’s the left-brain way of thinking. It’s fine and necessary as far as it goes, but it’s missing something.

Caring. Purpose. Passion.

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