Chris Busch, founder of LightQuest Media is guest blogging today. Chris is a leadership, management, and organizational consultant for secular companies and non-profits as well. Here are his thoughts on the subject of “Culture is more important than Vision.” Here’s his thoughts:
Culture trumps vision. I like it.
Culture can mean a lot of things but I like this simple definition – “Culture is the way we do things around here.” Vision without the appropriate culture is a bit like a plan without corresponding execution. Are plans important? Yes. But without execution…?
Every organization has a culture, whether it’s a church, a governmental agency, a business, a family… Sadly there often is a disconnect between the vision of where to go and the culture of how to get there. Maybe a good (albeit not original) name for this phenomenon would be dysfunction.
Dysfunction has many causes, but perhaps none as pernicious as insecurity in leadership. We all have insecurities, but insecurity in leadership often breeds much of the dysfunction in the culture of any organization. Insecurity can actually motivate people to great accomplishments. Insecure people can be very driven and overachievers of the utmost degree. But they can also foster toxic cultures because of their needs for control and power.
It seems that insecurity is poison in relationships, and relationships are ultimately the places from which an organization displays its effectiveness or lack thereof. Skills are also important, and if the cultural soil of an organization is fertile, the organization will attract talented people and they will thrive and flourish in productivity.
Humans are drawn to vision and enlivened by the progress toward its actualization or discouraged and frustrated by crippling dysfunction. People react differently to dysfunction in a culture. Some become enablers, consciously or subconsciously seeing that as the best course to rise in stature and influence (and salary). Some hunker down because they don’t want to play the game, but need the paycheck. Others move on in search of greener and more functional pasture.
Without any research data to back it up this is my observation – the most functional organizations I have seen over the long haul have been those who have somewhere embedded in their culture a very simple premise and principle – “We value people.”
Insecure people have difficulty valuing others, because their thinking is so turned inward and so much about themselves, their calling, their vision. It takes a reasonably secure person to truly value other people. Someone like Jesus.
That may be why the whole law is summed up in the saying, “Love one another.” (I’m getting the preach on, hallelujah!) And might that be why we see so much damage when the vision is paramount in a church or ministry rather than the culture (of love)?
Jesus modeled the culture of love. His legacy is that of the perfectly secure leader. That culture was carried through imperfect vessels of clay into the early church and today we still marvel at the impact.
So if I must choose, my vote is for culture. One that says, “We value people.”
Please don’t come at me with the “ends justify the means” argument that people are expendable in the quest for the achievement of the grand vision. As a leader this quest is not all about you and your vision and the utility of the staff in the achievement of that vision. Build a culture of love and respect and watch your staff enhance and surpass your vision.
But you have to become inwardly secure first, and maybe that thread is best left for another discussion. (Hint: Security is tied into that “L” word).