The Undivided Life Blog


Be Consistent. Treat Each of Them Differently

communication company culture leadership Feb 19, 2024
Large family with 7 little kids

I’m consistent with the kids. I treat each of them differently.

Leading a family with seven kids is like leading a large company.

My kids range in age from ten to just one month. If you spend an hour at our house, you will see proof that one set of parents can produce a cornucopia of personalities and temperaments in their children. And, while my wife and I are clear with our children about the family mission and the moral code by which we live, we recognize that each of our children requires different tools and expectations to thrive.

When it comes to celebrations, discipline, and teaching moments, our approach with each kid accounts for their unique needs and considers a variety of other factors, too. As a result, we may discipline one kid with the loss of a privilege while another could be told to write a letter of apology for seemingly equal offenses. And what about times of praise when their contributions and attitudes are above and beyond? We might reinforce the good behavior of one by scheduling a meal at their favorite restaurant and then reward the other with a surprise note of gratitude in their backpack, depending on their respective love languages. Regardless of the different ways in which we address each kid, we are consistent about the behaviors and attitudes that are praised and those that are punished.

The same can be said for the successful architecture of a company’s culture. It is critical for leadership to solidify the mission and then communicate and demonstrate the organization’s values in pursuit of a noble vision. These core elements serve as the foundation of the organization’s culture, upon which you then secure the pillars of communication, relationship building, and shared experiences.

Once the framework for intentional culture is established through your mission, vision, and values, then the real leadership of people begins.  A diverse set of human beings come together in your organization to form an intricate web of roles and relationships that hopefully result in the desired product or service as the output.  

And you, the leader, have a choice.

First, you can treat the entire set of humans as one homogenous set of machine inputs, communicating and interacting with them in a standardized and “scalable” fashion that allows for easy replacement of any worker should there be termination, resignation, or even growth.   This type of leadership can create repeatable results, and you see it deployed in countless organizations, some of which are extremely large and profitable. But it also devalues the human person and creates burnout, apathy, and emptiness while also diminishing the energy, attitude, and momentum of the team members.

This first option, while capable of producing results, also establishes a natural ceiling or governor on what the team can achieve. But alas, there is a better way.

You can instead recognize that each person is a human “being,” not a human “doing,” and that their very being-ness makes them unique, dignified, and valuable.  By leading the individual team members and ensuring that your organization has leaders in place who also value the uniqueness of each person, you can create a culture of coaching where everyone answers the call to contribute and to receive the contribution of others. When someone feels seen, heard, and supported for the unique gifts that they bring to the table, their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, and loyalty are magnified and solidified as they strive to achieve the organization’s mission together.

By selecting the second option, the one that makes business human, you can create an organization of highly aligned, loosely controlled individual contributors whose overall impact is multiplicative as they continuously redefine what’s possible. You can consistently reward the behaviors that typify your core values and address the issues related to people and performance as they arise while taking a thoughtful and unique approach in each situation, depending on the people involved.

The consistency of your leadership should be the core values by which you live and operate, not how you relate to and lead each person.

Want proof that this works?

Check out any of the award-winning organizations that I’ve launched or led where these concepts are in practice daily – or – come to the house for family dinner around 6:00 pm each night.

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