Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.
(Rita Mae Brown, Starting From Scratch)
Transformational leaders utilize this “hidden power” of language to inspire breakthrough performance and impact the culture of their organizations.
You may find yourself asking, “How?”
When you look for a way to impact the culture and performance of an organization, what is the most direct access?
Access lies clearly with your people, and the connection to them is always through language; the conversations they listen to, speak, and work within.
In fact, one unique way to view an organization is as a set of conversations amongst people.
Each strategy, vision, goal, and even the unspoken practices, all comprise the “conversation” of your enterprise.
If you are seeking breakthrough performance in any area of your enterprise, you can harness this “hidden power” of language.
Inspiring your people’s best possible performance requires creating an environment where they will put out their best and most creative efforts.
This begins with a particular kind of conversation: a commitment or series of commitments.
Many companies are beginning to work from a foundation of mutual commitments between leadership and employees.
One example of this is a commitment on the part of leadership to put their people first. For this to successfully transform a culture, at least two basic committed conversations need to be in place.
- Leaders’ expressed commitment to people having a work environment where they can succeed and be inspired in their work.
- Employees expressed commitment to the strategic goals of the company.
Once these kinds of commitments are aligned upon, the power of language can take hold and begin to shift the culture through actions and projects consistent with the commitments.
These activities consistent with the new commitments are crucial to breakthrough performance.
One company that is using the power of language to create a new environment for people at work is Zappos; and they did it in the midst of a global recession. Each of the company’s 20 core values now form the very heart of their culture. In actual practice, they guide every activity in the company.
Their core value of putting people first is expressed in each manager’s commitment to serve those they lead by working actively to remove key obstacles to their success.
Here are some of the results of creating a “people first culture”:
- 2007 revenues before the global downturn: $840 million
- 2010 they were $1.6 billion
- 2012 they were acquired by Amazon and now they are $2.2 billion
Most employees are strongly influenced by their work environment, and even those predisposed to flourish, can fold under pressure.
Generating new and inspiring conversations, can build an environment in which everyone can contribute and thrive.
By tapping into this “hidden power” of language, the culture of your company can be shifted, the way the moon does the tides, to one of breakthrough performance.
Where else have you seen new organizational conversations take hold and shift a culture?