The concept of culture being the linchpin came from an exceptional Director and loyal customer, Oliver Hemson, Tony Benger Landscapes. I would like to share his thoughts with you. These were inspired by the book ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari. This book contains a lot of vital information about human behaviour that applies to business and leadership.
The definition of a linchpin is a person or thing vital to an enterprise or organization; or a pin passed through the end of an axle to keep a wheel in position.
One important evolutionary aspect is how humans couldn’t make it past group numbers of 150 without some form of ‘religion’. It gave them a common belief and enabled them to work together. This is relevant to organisations today, regardless of size.
Oliver believes that a concerted effort (i.e., time/energy/action) by leaders on what exactly is the ‘religion’ (or culture) at the core of their business is their number one responsibility. This is the linchpin of the business which stops the ‘wheel falling off the wagon’. Simon Sinek reiterates this thought in his book ‘Start with Why’.
People need to understand what is the why – what is the common goal. With that in place, the rest is so much easier. Without it you’ve understandably got nothing but endless difficult conversations and disagreements. Without the linchpin, the wheel still turns, but it’s vulnerable. Potentially, all the spokes could fly off in different directions.
When the business communicates its culture and goals effectively, staff understand and are therefore empowered to behave and make decisions in line with them. Presuming they understood the culture when they joined, they believe the Company goals are in line with their own beliefs. Then staff feel engaged and they are promoting their own agenda by coming to work. All a leader has to do is find new ways to keep those goals communicated freshly.
‘Make sure you can articulate the story and vision really clearly and succinctly; you’re going to have to repeat it a couple of hundred times each year’.Bill Collis, President at Foundry
Aligning the Cultural Goals
Oliver goes on to say that he frequently sees how self-employed people will work so hard. They’re working to fulfil their own goals. If a Company can convince its staff that their goals are aligned, then the staff will want to work there. Poor performance, apathy, demotivation, and lack of direction are things of the past. Then you get true performance rather than compliance.
“Whenever there is a difficult conversation, re-asserting what our goals are, I find, often diffuses any personal drama a person brings to the room. It facilitates an adult-adult conversation about how we achieve the shared goal. Remind a person of the goals and, if they share them, then accountability falls into place naturally.”Oliver Hemson
Senior leaders can only be in charge when they allow others to take charge. They should have no problem stepping back, if they have communicated the culture and goals effectively.
Tony Benger Landscapes, a multiple award-winning company, employs about 150 people. After reading Sapiens, Oliver immediately got one of their values and mission statement put up on the walls!
How well do you communicate the vision, values and goals to your team? How well aligned are your company and employee goals? If you would like to find out more about building business culture, please contact me.
Also published on Medium.