Lately my colleagues and I have been talking about the most critical factor for an organization’s success. I am a follower of Shirley Sagawa and Deborah Jospin’s book: The Charismatic Organization – 8 Ways to Grow a Nonprofit. I believe that most of what they discuss can be adopted by ANY organization in any sector.
One of the eight ways to grow an organization (and the one I find most important) involves creating a “can do culture”. When doing workshops with teams and people, I have modified this to “building a culture of success” or “creating a culture of philanthropy” (love of humankind).
I believe a large part of this work is about living the personality of the organization and being clear about the character of the organization. Below are some concepts to focus on if you want to shift your organization’s culture.
- Openness and courage to build trust. This is all about setting aside ego and who is right or wrong; each person involved must have the true desire to ask, “What is the highest good for the organization and what are the steps to get there?”
- Consciousness, will, and integrity to act sustainably. Especially now, in a challenged environment for resources, think about how you create the safety for people to say, “Is this the most efficient way for us to work? Or is there a smarter organization in this space that we can partner with or give this idea to? Or are we treating ourselves well so we can be vibrant ambassadors for this work?”
- Prepare for and promote success. So often there is a focus on what more there is to do or what is missing from the current work. Challenge your culture to carve out the places and spaces to stop and say, “It is so inspiring and wonderful that we were able to accomplish…” Having celebration moments at the beginning of meetings forces people to acknowledge what is working, learn from it, and deepen the pride in their work.
- Showcase the values of the organization and its work. Over and over we hear about how difficult it is to understand and talk about the organization’s mission and programs with new audiences. Once people embrace the values of the organization and state out loud their respective reasons for being part of the leadership as Board, staff, funders, etc., there is a shift in consciousness about the ease in showcasing one’s association with the organization.
- Use the language of invitation. There is more intentionality in saying “May I invite you to be a lifelong partner in our work.” Evaluate your messages and materials to determine if you are comfortable with how much grace, respect, and gratitude is present when you are engaging people (at all levels) in the work you are doing.