A Culture of Fear or A Culture of Love?
Lately I have been thinking a lot about culture. Merriam-Webster defines culture as “the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.” Culture, undoubtedly, has a significant effect on an organization’s success or failure.
One of my favorite books is The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz. Although it is written as “a practical guide to the art of relationship,” Ruiz’s philosophy can just as easily be applied to culture. Ruiz (and many others) speculate that everything in life can be viewed in terms of love and fear.
I am willing to bet that organizations with strong cultures tend to lead out of love. Think about your own organization. Are you surrounded by people who act out of love, love for the members they serve and love for the credit union movement?
People who act out of love are passionate about the work they do and the difference they make in the lives of others. Conversely, people who act out of fear are apprehensive, anxious and terrified of making mistakes or of losing their jobs. People who act out of fear tend to take things personally, and may have a difficult time making the connection between the part they play and the bigger picture.
One company that seems to lead purely out of love is Zappos.com. Founded in 1999 with almost no sales, in 2008 they surpassed $1 billion in sales. Not only is Zappos a successful business, it is consistently rated on Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For. When asked what the company’s biggest asset is, CEO Tony Hsieh’s answer is always the same: the culture.
Zappos culture is based on 10 Core Values:
- Deliver WOW Through Service
- Embrace and Drive Change
- Create Fun and A Little Weirdness
- Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded
- Pursue Growth and Learning
- Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication
- Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit
- Do More With Less
- Be Passionate and Determined
- Be Humble
These core values play an integral role in how Zappos hires, trains and develops their employees. And these values aren’t just lip service. The Zappos 2009 Culture Book is filled almost entirely with emails from actual employees on what Zappos culture means to them. The comments were solicited from Hsieh, himself, who asked:
- What does the Zappos culture mean to you?
- What’s different about it compared to other company cultures?
- What do you like about our culture?
Many leaders are afraid to ask their employees questions like this because they are terrified of the answers they will receive. Hsieh asked these questions out of love. He has faith that, “If we do the right thing, then in the long run we will succeed and build something great.”
What about you? What does your credit union’s culture mean to you? What do you like (or dislike) about your culture? Does your organization act out of fear or out of love?