Survey says that executives believe that an organization’s culture is one of the top three factors impacting financial results. 90% of North American CEOs and CFOs link improved financial performance to culture.
While there is awareness of the importance of culture, 80% say their organization’s culture is not as healthy as it should be. Lack of leadership consistently emerges as the best predictor of toxic cultures. I wonder what the Organizational Bullshit score of toxic cultures may be.
Employees believe toxic cultures have five characteristics: disrespectful, non-inclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive. In an article on toxic culture, the authors observe: “Surprisingly, among executives who said their culture wasn’t working as well as it could, nearly all agreed that leadership failed to invest enough time upgrading corporate culture. Lack of leadership investment was the most important obstacle to closing the gap between cultural aspirations and current reality.”
There are thousands of studies, books and experts focused on toxic cultures. There is also extensive research that finds a direct impact on our health when we encounter toxicity; ranging from stress, anxiety, depression, to burnout. But how is any of this helping us create healthy cultures where we thrive?
But What Are WE Saying?
Are all these surveys really going to change anything apart from reporting year over year a decline in engagement, trust or increasing toxic cultures? Who wants to spend a life in disrespectful, non-inclusive, unethical, cutthroat, and abusive workplaces?
What these surveys find every time is that there is high awareness of the problems. But is it enough to report on the toxicity and try to find fixes?
Our opportunity is to go to the root causes of the toxic cultures and take action. And what if instead we create thriving, healthy cultures with conscious leaders? Isn’t it time to simply stop reporting about the symptoms and birth healthy living systems that support us?
Until we create whole systems, bodies and organizations, we will continue to focus on toxicity and what makes us sick. And even with all these surveys and revelations, our health is suffering.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
To Be Radical is to Grasp Things by the Root
We will never be able to fix a toxic culture or person. We need holistic approaches that create a healthy culture where everyone walks our talk. Could it be that embodying conscious communication and leadership is essential to where we’re headed?
Healthy people will not put up with toxic cultures or people and this will increase over time as we each make healthier choices. Change is not coming from the top of organizations. It is us who can focus on our opportunities and become the leaders we need.
Even during tough economic times, there are choices to be made. And they will not be reported in surveys because they don’t contain fear. When we become leaders of our own healthy lives, we understand we matter.
Instead of studying burnout, disengagement and distrust, maybe we have an opportunity to build and sustain healthy environments where we lead with meaning and passion. A world in which we’re excited to wake up every morning and create and play (aka work) with amazing peers, customers, community members and partners.
When so much effort and investment is made in constructing a company’s culture, values, mission and vision; maybe it’s time to embrace and live healthy ones?