Shaping Culture: Celebrating It (4 of 4)


Ironically, the most enjoyable discipline in shaping culture might be the most neglected – celebrating others who are modeling the culture you want to create.  If yesterday’s post was all about the need to say, “Hey, that’s not how we do things around here”, today’s is all about the need to say, “Hey, that’s EXACTLY how we do things around here.

This kind of celebration can take place in an email, a phone call, a text, a special lunch, or recognition in front of a larger group.  It can be a gift certificate, an unexpected coffee or time off.  It doesn’t matter how you celebrate.  All that matters is that the person knows why you are celebrating; it’s not because they’re generally awesome, it’s because of the specific way they handled a specific situation.

This seems so obvious but so many leaders ignore the power of celebration.  We’re wired to move on to the next challenge and find it hard to pause long enough to say good job in taking the last hill.  That’s a big mistake because we miss out on four benefits of celebrating:

  • It’s fun!  There’s something wrong when we stop enjoying a good party.
  • Often times people don’t know they’ve modeled the culture until you tell them.  Yesterday’s post talked about how many deviations from your culture come from unintentional wandering.  The same is true for many manifestations of your culture.  Don’t assume people know they got it right or why they got it right.  It’s our job as leaders to make it crystal clear.  Catching people doing the right thing is one of the most powerful culture shaping tools available to a leader.
  • Celebrating one person’s success becomes a vision casting, culture shaping exercise for the rest of the team.  If you celebrate publicly, everyone else has an aha moment themselves.  Plus, it shows them the path to being celebrated…that’s a path people like to take!
  • It shows everyone you really care about all of this culture stuff.  It shows it’s at the forefront of your mind, you’re constantly looking for it and care deeply about how this all gets lived out.

Who do you need to celebrate today?  Are you willing to send a quick text, make a call or send a gift card?  It’s not just being nice…it’s shaping your culture.

Shaping Culture

Church Culture

Every church has a culture.  It’s not defined by doctrine, mission statements, strategic plans, core values or org charts.  You get glimpses of it by listening to the language people use, watching the way decisions are made and observing how people treat one another.  It’s the intangible “way we do things around here.”

There are no exceptions.  Any group of people who have been together for a year or longer has a culture.  The question is whether it’s being intentionally shaped or passively discovered.  The difference has enormous implications for the life, health and effectiveness of a church.  If Peter Drucker was right, and I believe he was, when he famously said, “culture eats strategy for breakfast“, then any leader who isn’t intentional about shaping the culture of their organization is committing leadership malpractice.

In my time leading Restoration City, I’ve learned that a leader must do four things to intentionally shape the culture of their church or organization:

  • Define It
  • Model It
  • Correct It
  • Celebrate It

Three out of the four won’t get you there – it takes a commitment to all four disciplines.

I’m going to take my next four blog posts to discuss each one of these disciplines in greater depth.  I hope it’ll be helpful for our leaders at Restoration City and anyone else passionate about creating a healthy and intentional culture.

Culture matters to much to discover it.  Leaders must shape it.