September 10, 2015 Leadership Insight

Culture vs. Vision

MY flag+skyline

As we celebrate 58 years of independence as a nation, something I read from one of John Maxwell’s Leadership blog comes to mind.  In this particular article, he asks the question:

Culture vs. Vision : Is It Really Either-Or?

As you read his article, I hope you will also think about how you, as a Leader of your organisation, can impact the nation with a culture based on good moral values, impeccable ethics and integrity in order to achieve that vision of being a “Top Notch” organisation.  “Top Notch” is defined by you as the Leader, as it can be a diverse range depending on the vision of the organisation.

You are also a leader in your family, community and as a citizen of Malaysia.  You are accorded the privilege and responsibility to impact the nation by building a culture that is grounded in peace, harmony and unity in order to achieve the vision of being a developed nation blessed with prosperity.

Enjoy this powerful article, and you will come to understand how the outcome of this joint-partnership of these two very important words, i.e. Culture and Vision, can have in building a Successful and Sustainable Entity, that is, our beloved nation of Malaysia.


CULTURE VS. VISION : IS IT REALLY EITHER-OR?

– John Maxwell –

Culture seems to be the new emphasis for leaders these days.  Five years ago, if you would have brought up the subject, people would look at you blankly.  Now, everyone recognises its importance.

Recently at a conference, I stated that I believe culture eats vision for lunch.  Afterwards, someone asks me, “So does that mean that vision doesn’t matter?”

My answer: NO.

While it’s true that culture is very powerful, it works best in relationship with vision.  Another way to say that while culture is what gets you to your destination, vision determines the destination.

If you articulate a great vision to an organisation without the appropriate culture, you’ll never achieve the vision.

If your organisation has a wonderful culture, but no vision, then you might really enjoy your time together, but you’ll never go anywhere.

I believe that the issue is not vision vs. culture, but how to achieve vision + culture.

VISION IS “I HAVEA DREAM,” AND CULTURE IS “THIS IS HOW WE MARCH.”

When Martin Luther King Jr. spoke those words in 1963, he inspired people from all over the nation to participate in the Civil Rights Movement.  But the movement was about so much more than listening to a speech.

In fact, King and his leaders had been describing and modelling a very specific culture to the participants for years: one of nonviolence and passive resistance.  They demonstrated it over and over, and the culture of the movement spread, from lunch sit-ins to the March of Selma.

Look at how vision and culture work hand-in-hand:

1. VISION IS ABOUT “ONE DAY,” AND CULTURE HAPPENS EVERY DAY.

This means that the people in an organisation must be able to look toward both the future and the present.  They need to know where they’ll eventually be and what to do every day to get there.  It’s the leader’s job to articulate an inspiring vision for the future and make sure everyone in the organisation does the right things day after day.

2. VISION IS DESCRIBED, AND CULTURE IS MODELLED.

Vision can’t be demonstrated because it’s not yet a reality.  But culture can be modelled, and it needs to be, from the top leader down on.  Have you ever started working in a job where the grand vision that was shared by the top leader has nothing to do with what anyone actually does – including that leader?  A leader and his or her team must act every day in a way that takes the organisation in the direction of the vision.  This is the only way the culture will infiltrate every layer of the organisation.

3. VISION ALIGNS WITH VALUES, AND CULTURE DEMONSTRATES THEM.

This is where vision and culture can most easily diverge.  Most people’s grand visions align with equally grand values – for example, honour, and follow-through.  But there can often be a big difference between the values communicated by an organisation’s vision, and the values demonstrated by their culture.  If your value is excellence, do people’s daily action reflect that?  Or do they indicate apathy?

Culture and vision need each other, so it’s important to give enough attention to both.  So when you share your dream with your people, make sure you teach them how to march.


Reading a great article tickles the brain and may even move your heart.  However, it is all about being intentional with a plan that builds and impacts your organisation.  With that in mind, I humbly ask of you/encourage you to review the culture and vision of your organisation, and to ensure that they are both aligned.

Yours truly,

Donald

Leave a Reply

Drop Us a Message

Develop Yourself First