Fellow leaders

The Turks have a homely proverb that says “a fish stinks first at the head”, meaning that if an employee is disorderly, it is because the head of the organisation is so. This week we will use this phrase metaphorically to explore how you and your executive team, as the “head”, can fix the negative culture of your organisation.

Bill Hybels as head of Willow Creek Association (WCA), an organisation dedicated to expanding the influence of the Kingdom of God on earth, was devastated when a survey revealed that a large part of his vision-building employees felt little more than a “number”. He and his executive team knew that they had more than missed the boat, that if there was to be a change, they would need to do the hard work first.

The WCA EXCO team made five commitments:

  1. To use a credible external firm to evaluate the culture – on an annual basis
  2. To own the turn-around – since the culture will only ever be as healthy as the head
  3. To get real serious about people who manage people – providing rigorous training so that they can get better at it; letting those who would not adapt to the new culture go
  4. To raise the level of honesty in the bi-annual performance appraisals – answer the employee’s (often unstated) question: how am I doing; am I adding value
  5. To resolve relationship issues no matter how bad it gets – to see rifts as opportunities to get to know each other better and learn how to reconcile.

Leadership Reflections

  • How healthy are you as a leader?
  • When you look at the culture of your organisation, what does it say about its head?
  • Write down at least three things you can personally do to bring about a positive change.

In the next post, we will explore how to constructively raise the level of honesty in your performance appraisals.

To learn more about Bill Hybels, go to www.willowcreek.com

Happy leading.