Most human systems begin open and energetic as they storm into existence on the power of an idea or two. As they grow and establish structure and order, they focus less on chasing big ideas and instead build process and systems to make things more predictable and normal. Once we pass from storming to norming we end up in conforming. The human system is now established and hierarchy just kind of happens. Here is where most American business systems reside. These systems value consensus, getting along, and not rocking the boat. They take a lot of topics offline and don’t mine for conflict, instead, they bury it. These are conformance cultures and you most likely lead one.

High performance cultures pass the tension to it’s rightful owner, bubble up conflict, reward rugged transparency, and demand dissent instead of squelching it offline. High performance cultures are led by leaders with an appetite for truth, not a tendency toward appeasements. High performance cultures don’t drop out of the sky. They are built by listening and learning.

Conformance vs performance.

Which kind are you rewarding, leader? Slow down and sit with this for awhile. Slow down and reflect. When was the last time you encouraged dissent prior to finalizing a decision? When was the last time you sensed strain and drain in your system and dug a bit deeper to discover its roots? When was the last time you rewarded someone for taking a tough topic into your executive committee or L10 and asked them to tell you more instead of take it offline? Every leader gets exactly the culture they deserve. Want a better culture? Become a better leader. Value ideas and performance the way you did back when you stormed into existence. Good.

Live hard. Love harder (Thanks, Teeks)…

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