Right now, everything you do or don't do is guided by a set of underlying values. The same is true for your church. Culture-savvy leaders understand how to mold the invisible stuff of values to shape, like clay, the atmosphere, attitudes, actions and automated responses of their teams.
What if we were to x-ray the intuitive movements of great values-based leaders? What would we see?
What if we were to make even more conscious our intentions towards culture-shaping leadership? What core practices would come to the surface?
Here are seven:
#1 Articulation: The first step of culture-shaping is to identify, name and define. That's what it means to be human- bringing meaning through how we label and distinguish within the created world and within the world we want to create. You can't mold in the real world what you don't hold in the mental world. So, what are you holding? What are your top 3 or 4 culture-shaping aspirations?
#2 Imitation: You teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are. Your life is broadcasting and multiplying a values set. How is that values set being consciously transferred by you, even though the receiver may not know it?
#3 Mechanism: If you lead a team or an organization, you have the authority to create a shared experience or a roll-out a new process. Think of a mechanism as an event or process that clarifies, restores, aligns or attunes your people with an existing shared value. Think of this as a wake-up call that shakes up business as usual.
#4 Collision: Oftentimes values get clear and concrete at the very moment they are violated. Or it may be a time of testing or crisis that brings a "near violation." Look for collisions in the past and potential ones in the future to rehearse and strengthen values. As a leader don't be afraid to name when you missed a values-based decision or needed a realignment yourself. That may be the most important impression you ever leave.
#5 Decision: Consciously run your decisions, big and small, through the filter or your values. Most importantly combine this with "imitation" and walk through a conscious decision-making process with your team using your values. What decisions are you facing today? What are your biggest decisions in 2012?
#6 Question: Dialogue is one of the leader's greatest tools. And dialogue works best with questions, not answers. Ask questions to clarify, to meddle, and to rethink. Pose questions for your team to answer. Specifically bring bold questions that force new thinking around the same values.
#7 Celebration: The most often cited culture-shaping activity is celebration. People repeat what's rewarded. Make sure you take time for this. If this is one of your perpetual weaknesses, assign someone on the team to plan the moments that mark your church's progress. Life is too short not to celebrate!