Why Culture Defines Your Brand (and Dictates Your Success)
While there seems to be some confusion about whether the original quote was “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” or whether it was “Culture eats strategy for lunch,” and no one even seems sure if it was Peter F. Drucker who said it first or if he only adopted the phrase and made it famous, there is one thing for certain – culture trumps strategy regardless of the meal in question.  
“Culture is the prevailing mindset of any group or organization.”

But what is this elusive concept we call culture, why does it have the power to make or break an organization, why is it so difficult to change, and what is the role of empowered leadership in making that change possible?

My working definition for ‘culture’ is this; “Culture is the prevailing mindset of any group or organization.” And that is ultimately why culture will always have more impact than strategy on your reputation and your brand as well as your innovation and profitability.

If your culture is not fully aligned with your strategic plan it is your strategic plan that will lose, every time.

For an individual, ‘mindset’ is best defined as “A fixed mental attitude or disposition that predetermines a person’s responses to and interpretations of situations.”

That attitude or set of beliefs is their default operating system. It’s always there, running in the background, no matter what you see on the screen. And that programming will determine what that person thinks, says, and does in any given situation.

So you can create strategic plans, train everyone on systems, and write volumes of protocol, guidelines, and brand messaging, but when push comes to shove and people have to make decisions under pressure, or if the situation they’re in isn’t covered by training and guidelines they’ve been given, they will follow their mindset programming every time.

Mindset also governs trust, loyalties, discrimination, and subgroupings, it’s responsible for whether or not an individual will embrace differences or diversities or reject those who they see as “different.”

Mindset determines expectations, creating an optimistic or pessimistic view of everything from a particular project or initiative to the future of the company to the future of the world.

All subconscious, and many conscious, decisions come directly from that programming.

If your culture is not fully aligned with your brand it is your brand that will lose, every time.

Whatever programming prevails among the individuals in your organization becomes your culture. And if individual mindset determines the choices of the individual, culture or group mindset even more so determines the choices of groups of individuals.

Culture informs how people are treated, and how they believe they should treat others – your customers, your vendors, your colleagues, your competition – all will be affected by your culture, so your culture determines your reputation in your industry and the world.

Your culture governs your response to crisis, so it will determine your liability and your trustworthiness. It also governs your response to opportunities and will show up in the way new ideas are welcomed or picked apart and discarded before they have been fully explored, so it will determine your ability to innovate and collaborate.

Your culture is responsible for the way your company shows up, internally and externally. Just as culture trumps strategy, it also trumps any brand you’ve worked to create.

If your culture is not fully aligned with your brand it is your brand that will lose, every time.

My understanding of culture as a group expression of mindset and belief has helped me to hone in on disconnects between the way a company wants to operate, or the way a company wants to be perceived internally and externally, versus the way it is operating or the way it is perceived.

Because when you look at the ways in which the culture is not aligned with the strategic plan or with the brand, you soon begin to understand why the strategic plan or the brand are not working.

When your leaders have full access to their internal, personal power and it is showing up in their minds and bodies, then they do have the power to create culture.

Which brings us to leadership. If culture is the prevailing mindset of any group or organization you would assume that culture is determined by the mindset of the leaders in the organization, right? Yes. And no.

It is determined by the mindset and the power and influence of the leaders in the organization. You see, the prevailing mindset isn’t always a reflection of the mindset held by the leaders.

Sometimes there is an “old guard” whose mindset prevails, or a subgroup of influencers, or a charismatic nay-sayer, or any number of other individuals or groups who actually hold the power of determining your prevailing mindset.

And if that is the case, that has to change. That is why our mission is “empowered and embodied leadership.” Because when your leaders have full access to their internal, personal power and it is showing up in their minds and bodies, then they do have the power to create culture.

The mindset they hold will prevail in the organization. Because your people, systems, strategies, and messages are interrelated and interdependent, changing culture requires systemic change throughout your organization.

But when your culture is aligned with your strategic plan and your desired brand it won’t need to eat anything or anyone for breakfast or lunch ever again.

If your organization is ready to:

– prioritize the development and synthesis of individual talents,

– build a culture based on equality, inclusion, collaboration, and respectful, even joyful, human interaction,

– and achieve sustainable growth through fully empowered leadership…

We’d love to engage with you to make your vision a reality.

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CHANGE IS HARD
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