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The Champion Forum Podcast

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Culture Rules with Mark Miller: Building an Intentional Culture

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! Your organization has a culture, whether by your own creation or by default. Most leaders know that culture is important and recognize that thriving and vibrant cultures outperform those that are not. Still, leaders fail to devote adequate time and resources to creating and maintaining their culture. In this interview with Mark Miller, best-selling author and former VP of High-Performance Leadership, you’ll learn how to approach culture and take steps to ensure you do not leave it up to chance.

About Mark Miller

Mark Miller is a business leader, best-selling author, and communicator. Mark started his Chick-

fil-A career working as an hourly team member in 1977 and recently retired as Vice President of

High-Performance Leadership. He began writing almost twenty years ago, and with over one million books in print in more than twenty-five languages, Mark’s global impact continues to grow.

What was the most important lesson you learned in your career journey?

A person’s capacity to grow determines their capacity to lead. Some people are natural learners; they gravitate toward reading and listening to educational content. It did not come naturally to me, but I learned it is a choice. You have to choose to approach each day intending to grow. It’s easy to choose to listen to the radio over an audible book or a podcast, but if I want to impact more people, I need to make the choices that will make that goal a reality.

Why did you decide to write this book, and why now?

We decided on the topic of culture pre-pandemic, and the pandemic put massive pressure on organizational culture. That pressure did one of two things. It showcased strengths in some organizations and exposed issues in others. Sometimes both! After talking to frontline leaders, we learned that 72% of US leaders say culture is their most powerful tool to drive performance, but building culture was ranked number 12 on their list of priorities. This is a leadership opportunity, a leadership challenge. If the leadership isn’t working on culture, no one is. Every organization has a culture, either by design or by default. The ones by default are not vibrant, healthy, or sustainable. Our goal is to help leaders bridge the knowing-doing gap.

Two Reasons Leaders Struggle to Be Effective

Ineffective leaders are trying to lead from quicksand: busyness, fear, fatigue, and complexity. Leaders in quicksand are not working on culture. They are working on survival. Other leaders struggle because the topic of culture is not approachable. Culture is so complicated that they don’t know what to do.

How Do You Create Culture?

1. Aspire

You can’t create a culture by yourself. The culture doesn’t exist until you can sufficiently share the aspiration and have others join you in making it a reality.

2. Amplify

There’s so much noise. You have to get the message and the intent of the aspiration above the noise.

  • Role model the behavior you want people to embrace.

  • Tell stories about people who are living out the culture.

  • Repeat your message strategically and as often as possible.

3. Adapt

When you see the culture moving toward the aspiration, know you are not done! You can’t tread water with your culture.

  • Identify and eliminate any patterns of unhealthy and unproductive behavior. If you see toxins, you have to intervene. If you don’t, those toxins will metastasize.

  • Double down on your strengths.

  • Add new capabilities. Think about the culture you will need to survive, not just 5 years down the line, but 25.

Application Activities:

  1. Does your team understand what culture you want your team/organization to have? Ask your team to explain the culture to you. If there are any discrepancies, how can you amplify the culture you want? Take some time to write down 3-5 stories that show your team exemplifying your culture and find time to share them over the next week.

  2. How does your company currently onboard employees? What cultural expectations do you set? How can you ensure those messages are repeated throughout a new hire’s first week? Talk with your HR or team about how to ensure new employees understand and embrace the culture of your organization.

  3. If you have a strong culture, consider if anything is missing. What values will your company need to survive and thrive over the next 20 years? Work with other leaders to identify this value and what it will take to add it to your organization. These kinds of aspirational values can also be helpful when you need to adapt during a specific season of your business.

  4. Text BESMART to 66866 and get a free assessment and personal instructions on how to get out of quicksand based on your answers. Pass this resource on to the people who are in quicksand.

Resources Referenced:

Connect with Mark:

Text your questions: 678-612-8441


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