Service Leaders Shape the Flow
By Ron Kaufman
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Every culture shares a common language, a set of practices, traditions, stories, strategies and standards. These common elements influence and shape human behavior. They keep us in the flow of a discourse that already exists.
We are all born into cultures. We are educated in cultures. Our sports and religions and music are all examples of long standing cultures.
In a company culture, employees learn to go with the flow. They learn what to do, what to avoid, how to behave, how to earn the next salary increase, bonus or promotion.
A leader’s job is not to go with the flow. A leader’s job is to shape it.
Leadership means taking a position above the daily rush to see which way a culture is flowing. Leadership means forming an opinion about the impact and consequences of a culture’s current direction. Leadership means deciding what needs to be changed, and taking responsibility for making new changes happen.
Cultures evolve through the introduction of innovations and new interpretations. In medicine, for example, a disease is often named for the doctor who discovers it. All doctors, thereafter, learn the new distinction. In manufacturing, a new process is created on the shop floor. If it increases speed or yield or lowers waste, an entire industry will adopt it.
With The 12 Building Blocks of Service Culture, leaders can make changes to influence the flow and shape the culture of an organization. These changes can lead to lasting benefits for everyone. But shaping the flow with new changes can also be challenging. Those who are invested in the current flow may not welcome new efforts or directions.
On Earth we are addressing our need to change the flow with innovations (like renewable energy resources), and new interpretations (like the appeal of corporate social responsibility and the attractiveness of green marketing).
In your organization, leadership means taking a hard look at what’s working and what is not, then changing what’s necessary to redirect the culture, to influence the behavior of those who will go with the flow.
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