Cultivating Your Culture COVID-Style

Tuesday May 26, 2020 comments


Our word “culture” is derived from a French word meaning, “to cultivate.” Implicit in that is that it takes work, which is different in different seasons. You can’t get the seasons mixed up and do the wrong work in the wrong season and get the right results.

And here we are, in arguably one of the weirdest seasons in the lives of almost anyone alive anywhere in the world. It’s not ending anytime soon, though things could be about to shift for some employers. How do you cultivate your culture right now?

People on your team may appreciate compassion, communication, and security, but what they really need right now is visionary and inspiring leadership. They need to see a future; they need to see you lead.

There is no script for this. Every organization is in a different place, based on how they’ve had to manage regulations, finances, and people. Your best people need more than compassion; they need to see a path forward and a leader who can get them there. Consider these ways:

  1. Remember that your culture is created by everything that you as the leader do, say, promote, or allow. Challenging times are when that’s proven. This will be a defining point in your culture - for good or bad - that will be hard to undo when times are better. People will remember and the stories will get passed down to future team members.
  2. There are reasons that some compare this to a war. In battle, a military team needs their leader to give direct orders when under fire. When the battle subsides, they need their leader to show compassion with the wounded and the rattled, being both caring and envisioning. If we communicate the wrong way for the season it isn’t as effective as we may think it is.
  3. Make decisions based on business viability. This is the time to be logical, and think from your brain. If you mix too much heart into your decisions, you risk future success and jobs.
  4. Implement decisions with compassion. If you deal with whatever fallout you have that impacts your team in a way that looks like you have no heart, that will stigmatize you. People will emotionalize and remember how things felt during this season for the rest of their lives.
  5. Get creative. Get as far outside of the box as you can, exploring new options, new ways of operating, and new potential for success. Doing so is good for you, but it demonstrates to your team that you know how to lead in difficult times. This is where you build trust in your leadership.
  6. Be visionary. You may see where you’re going, but to be the visionary for your people, you have to help them see what you see. They may be more focused on the immediate concerns for health, safety, making rent, or food shortages. Help them see beyond by communicating what you see. A picture paints a thousand words. Use enough words to help others see.
  7. Be inspiring. There is so much bad news, fear, conflicting stories, and conspiracy theories everywhere. Your people don’t need to hear that from you. They need you to inspire them with potential for future success. Don’t expect your whole team to be self-inspiring. People expect leaders to rally them around a vision, a cause, a future.

As challenging as this season may be, those that lead out of it will be the role models that shape how leadership looks for the next generation. This isn’t just about you or your organization. Build the future and leave a legacy.


At Open Door, we honestly believe that if you have the right team, united around a compelling vision, you can change the world.  We help busy leaders like you intentionally define, cultivate, and reinforce their organization's culture. Through that culture, we help you find and keep the right team members, part ways with the wrong ones, and get everyone on the team focused on the same compelling vision… your vision. When your team members see through your eyes, they think like owners rather than entitled employees. Life is too short and you spend too much of it working not to enjoy the culture you work in.  We help you cultivate a culture that can carry the vision that's worth pouring your life into.


Popular Tags