Our Safety Administrator at the plant just reminded me of a critical leadership truth. In challenging me on our safety record, he said, “You can’t say you have a safety culture if you’re not doing things safely.”
There’s a lot of chatter about culture, but what it comes down to is what are people doing? You can say you have a customer-first culture, or a family-oriented culture, but if people ignore a phone call because it’s break time or are afraid to ask for time off for Grandparents Day at school, you don’t.
Culture is defined by both saying and doing. It’s important as a leader to clearly state what the desired culture is. But then you have to coach it, you have to model it, you have to hold people accountable for it. You can’t ever allow a breach of culture to go unchallenged.
That’s the hard thing about culture: molding culture requires you to spend a lot of time with your people. But that’s what you should be doing anyway, if you’re really leading them.