I have just read the most beautiful blog post from an ex student of mine outlining the journey she went through in losing her partner to cancer. Now as a widowed solo mother in her early thirties the journey continues to be extremely tough for her . Whilst the grief she felt has been immeasurable, she has chosen to open-up to the world again and ever so gently begin to level-up her life. She has set herself goals and declared them to others so they might support her. This warrior woman has chosen to live a life above the line.
This above-the-line attitude is also a vital part of building organisational culture. Just as an individual can choose to live a life above the line, so too can (and must) organisations. In his book titled "Above the line", Michael Henderson states that an above the line culture is a fulfilling one in which to work and effective in delivering results. It is a culture that empowers people to progress and serve others. Alternatively a below-the-line culture is one driven by fear. It is stressful, socially unsafe and unproductive.
Culture is created and sustained by everyone in the organisation.
If we think of it like our own bodies... when we are looking after ourselves and feeding our minds, bodies and spirit with goodness, it will more than likely be healthy. In being so, it will be able to fight-off infections and maintain equilibrium. If however we don't look after ourselves and get an infection, then ignore it, it will spread until eventually our whole body is unwell. And this is also true within organisations where below the line thinking, comments and behaviours are prevalent. If left to fester, they can spread throughout the organisation, creating a toxic, unsafe and unproductive environment. If we are to have an above-the-line culture, we all have a responsibility to both live it ourselves, and question if we see or hear it dropping below the line.
So as you head into 2018 and start vigorously planning and setting targets, take the time to consider your organisational culture...
- What do you want it to be?
- How will you nourish it?
- How will you maintain it?
- How will you celebrate it?
Organisational culture is everyone's responsibility. Just like the young woman I taught, every minute of every day we have a choice of whether we want to be above or below the line in our actions, thoughts and intent.
What will your choice be?
PS: Those organisations working with me this year will receive a copy of Michael Henderson's book, so don't rush out and purchase one. :-)