Peter Drucker first coined the phrase “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Mark Fields, President at Ford, made it famous by adding to the saying: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so do not leave it unattended.” It is my turn to embellish the statement and assert: “A Cohesion Culture™ snacks on strategy and structure all day long.”
My quote refers to the fact that a culture created through cohesion is constantly in motion and always evolving. Unless the organizational structure aligns to the dynamic interactions and development of its people, the all-consuming culture devours the strategy like snacks between meals. This alignment is necessary because successful companies match centralized and decentralized hierarchies and internal processes and procedures based upon its strategy.
When the strategy is to retain talent, the structure requires a Cohesion Culture.
Cohesion Culture is an environment where employees have a sense of belonging, feel valued and make a commitment to organizational success because their leaders have committed to their success.
Leadership Directly Impacts a Cohesion Culture
The impact of leadership upon the work culture cannot be understated, denied, or overlooked. Leadership is constantly supplying the culture’s food chain with every decision, policy, and procedure to develop its workforce. Employees who subscribe to cohesion eat a steady diet of learning, collaboration, and social connectivity.
A Cohesion Culture is more than just words to describe a work environment. It is the foundation from which leaders build an organizational strategy aimed to keep people now and into the future. The culture of cohesion has an insatiable appetite that can easily eat its way from the inside out.
The Three Basic Food Groups of a Cohesion Culture
- Cultural Values are Based Upon Honesty
Cultural values source from truth and reflect the organization’s characteristics, describing how people inside the workplace act with each other and those outside the company’s four walls. Values are the organization’s basic ingredients and must be combined to form that perfect blend of people, purpose, and commitment.
- Senior Leadership Supports the Culture
Without exception, the culture begins with the CEO. If the most senior leader of the organization does not speak life to the organization’s values, the culture will become fragmented, fractured and failed. It does not take a high IQ to know that if the CEO does not support the core values, guiding principles or value statement, it’s open feeding time. Both strategy and structure will become the culture’s main course.
- Live It, Breath It, Own It
Fundamentally, “living it” means people observe the actions of leaders who demonstrate effective leadership characteristics and imitate those actions. “Breathing it” refers to how employees accept these cultural behaviors and values with the intent to integrate them into how they perform with and for others. “Owning it” is simply taking accountability and responsibility to uphold the organization’s value structure as if it were owned by the employee.
For the most part, individuals actively participating in extending the stories, traditions, and rituals of the culture to outlast their work timeline understand how to “live it, breath it, and own it.” Success occurs when a culture of cohesion has been successfully integrated into the organization because people believe it is right, not because the leader said so.
When Cohesion Is Present
People working cohesively within an organization focus their daily activities on performance, which leads to engagement. Cohesion requires the presence of belonging, value, and commitment. Leaders who get this, then realize how to properly feed the culture without sacrificing structure or strategy.
As leaders digest the concept of a Cohesion Culture, they will begin to assess how the culture can be served. Unlike revenge, a culture of cohesion should never be served up cold. My advice is not to let your culture snack as it pleases; instead, consistently feed it with cohesion.
How are you feeding your culture on a regular basis?