The word culture comes from the Latin “cultus” which means care and the French “colere” which means to till, tend or cultivate. This indicates that culture is an action not just a state. What is being grown in your organization? How is it being cared for? What is cultivated?
According to the Aristotle Study at Google the number one reason for team success is psychological safety, so it makes sense that safety is a critical component of successful culture.
What else matters? Increasing involvement through vulnerability. When the leader “knows it all,” the team doesn’t need to contribute or bring their best. When a leader sends the team a signal that their help is needed, it changes everything. The team pitches in and gets involved increasing the likelihood of success. This is why we are so passionate about great questions.
Here are three key questions to consider as you evaluate your culture. How would your team respond? The answers will make all the difference in their performance.
- Am I safe? We are fascinated by neuroscience research that shows how the various parts of the brain are wired. One of the key objectives of our brain is to keep you alive. So, it’s constantly scanning the environment assessing whether or not it’s safe. You can create a cultural environment of safety or fear through your words and actions.
- Am I connected to this group (or organization)? Connection comes through openness and vulnerability. Are you asking for help or telling people what to do? On a scale of one to ten, how curious are you? Asking for help signals vulnerability which ignites trust and cooperation and in turn leads to connection.
- Do we share a future? Do you value profit or purpose more? Team members who are clear about the vision can more easily focus their attention on the highest priority. Purpose helps the team understand where you are and where you are going. Meaning (or purpose) is one of the three motivations that Dan Pink outlined in his book Drive.
You can learn more about these questions and the research that supports their importance in The Culture Code.