Healthy Culture + Leadership: You can’t have one without the other

“Company culture is the product of a company’s values, expectations, and environment.” -Courtney Chapman

Our Chief Culture Officer, Brian Mountjoy, unpacked this quote on a special episode of The Dunham Podcast and I want to bring you into that conversation today. We talked about how culture relates to leadership and how they work together…

Trent: When we walk in every morning to our office, we see “The Dunham Way,” a list of our values on the wall. I’m reminded that we’ve given our people something to live up to. We have set up accountability as leadership in the company that says either we’re going to fake it until we make it, or no matter how many times we fail, we’re going to keep striving for these things.

Because at the end of the day, each employee has their own set of personal values they bring to the table. But ultimately, they are going to reflect the DNA of the leader. What is the leader modeling? If that model is narcissistic and all about getting credit, then you naturally create a politically charged environment as a result.

Brian: That’s right. I believe culture and leadership go hand in hand. Culture starts from the top, it starts sideways and it starts diagonally. Culture is all over the place but it’s so important that the leaders are setting the pace.

For instance, here at D+C, one of our values is that we are all about Kingdom impact. Anyone who knows you or Rick Dunham knows that this value is ingrained in your DNA. You live with a higher purpose and a higher calling. And that sets the tone for the whole organization.

If you work for someone who truly cares more about other people than they do themselves and how they can benefit, you have found a treasure.

Trent: Thanks for saying that. If I look back at myself 10 years ago, it’s much different than it is today. But that’s part of sanctification. We’re all going through that process. We’re going to learn. We’re going to make egregious mistakes that offend people. We just are.

When you step into a leadership role, you’re assuming the mantle and the expectation that you are going to fail miserably at some point and that failure is going to hurt someone personally. It’s not something you set out to do, but the reality is that it is going to happen. You have to be able to process that and realize that doesn’t define who you are. You learn from those experiences so that it doesn’t happen again and you understand the ingredients that led to that point.

And on another note, if your goal as a leader is to be liked, it’s probably not going to turn out well for you. It’s just like a parent. The goal of a parent is not to be your kid’s friend. It’s to raise godly, God-fearing people who honor God and can function in society, right?

In a similar fashion, as a leader, if your goal is to be liked, you’re not going to be able to make hard decisions. When you know what’s best and you’re willing to walk into that with courage but also compassion, I think that’s where God really shows up.

Brian: Trent, another value of ours is that we work hard. But what if your supervisor is not working hard? You still need to have your set of values and set the example. It’s a higher calling. And you may even influence leadership in the process.

Trent: And from a leadership standpoint, so much is born out of relationships. I recently had some friends on a work trip confront me in a light-hearted way about a decision I had made. It turned into a healthy, “family” conversation. We know that we care for one another, and we all have the same goal in mind, but we’re still willing to have the conversation.

It’s so valuable. I wouldn’t trade that for the world because I have people walking with me who are going to push me and make me better. They are going to make the experience for our clients better, the experience for our employees better, and ultimately, the organization better.

For more insight into creating a healthy culture within your ministry or organization, check out The Dunham Podcast episodeMagic of Company Culture.”


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Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information.