16
Nov
09

Leadership and creating great sculptures

sculpting-1bImagine taking a massive block of granite and turning it into a magnificent sculpture for all to admire. For hours you stand and stare at that granite and the possibilities of what it can become. Finally, a vision of your sculpture crystallizes in your mind. You pick up your hammer and chisel and begin to chip away. What you’re actually doing is chipping away all of the granite that doesn’t belong until all that remains is your work of art. The sculpture existed in the granite, but only you knew what needed to be meticulously removed to reveal it.

As a leader, you are a sculptor of great company culture. Like the massive granite block, you take individuals with diverse backgrounds, personalities, ambitions and levels of determination and shape them into a highly functional company culture. You know that not all individuals will fit into your culture. In essence, you need to chip them away. If you don’t, you compromise your culture. It will never become the “work of art” culture you envisioned at the start. It’s hard and painstaking work.

One of the most challenging aspects of coaching leaders is the “sculpting” of company cultures. Many leaders never really have a vision of what they want their cultures to be like. Sure, they have a company vision, but that vital vision of what they want the “thinking and behaviors” of the company to be never crystallized. Simply put, without “sculpting” the right culture, the vision of the company is compromised at its core.

The more challenging aspect of leadership coaching is working with leaders who have a wonderful vision of a company culture, but fail to do the leadership work to achieve it. This includes everything from weak hiring practices, allowing double standards and poor accountability to inadequate information flow, poorly designed systems and the blatant failure to make tough decisions. Again, “sculpting” company culture is tough work – but it is truly the most vital work of leadership.

My challenge for you is to become that sculptor for your company culture. Study the “raw material” you have to work with. Imagine the most amazing culture that will lift your company to world-class status. Then, become the no-compromise leader and remove all who do not belong in your culture. You may have to let employees go because it’s a safe bet some people won’t fit into your culture. You will need to crank up your information flow systems. You will need to re-introduce accountability. You will need to take out that once shiny and inspiring company vision, buff it up and start sharing it again.

In order to sculpt the company culture you want, you will need to be a true no-compromise leader.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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