PDA Letter Article

5 Agreements for Your Future Culture

by Jason V. Barger, Consultant

Much in the world often seems out of our control.

We experience rapid change, political and economic uncertainty, employee shifts and the war for talent, and the “future of work” that everyone is forecasting is still being created. A lot seems out of our control; yet much is also still within our control. Even in the midst of all that is swirling around us, there is so much that every leader, team and organization has right in front of them and is fully within their control.

Most teams and companies just need to step back and acknowledge it. In fact, one of the greatest mental exercises for all of us these days is to recognize and name all the things that are within our control. When we cannot control the weather, the economy, or the latest media scandal, we can still decide to what we will devote our energy. There is always a response or action that is within our control. Every time we shift our thinking from reactionary finger-pointing, excuse-making, or feeling sorry for ourselves and direct our focus and energy to solutions, gratitude, and ownership over our next actions, positive ripples are felt by all around us. It models a different spirit for the path forward.

The best leaders and teams on the planet understand their role is to help positively influence the mindsets of their people in ways that give energy, hope and clarity to the path forward.

At a time when 9 out of 10 employees say they would take a pay cut to work for a more meaningful culture, it is way past time for all of us to think about the role we all play in creating these meaningful cultures. The mindsets, actions, and behaviors that we choose will send ripples to everyone around us.

The best leaders and cultures are intentionally co-creating their future culture, together. The mindsets they fuel and the actions they take determine the direction they go.

Five Agreements to Make with Yourself for Your Future Culture

  1. Breathe — Practice breathing in good oxygen of gratitude, appreciation and joy each day rather than toxic air of blame, gossip, negativity and excuse-making. How you begin your day often sends your mind and your actions in a particular direction. Which air do you want to breathe?
  2. Share Clear Messages — We all need and want clarity. Share clear messages about which direction you are heading and what you want for the road ahead. Is your Mission clear? Is your Vision clear? Are the Values for how your team is committed to travel clear? Is your Strategy for the next priorities clear? If not, your team may get trapped focusing on all that is out of their control.
  3. Develop An Intentional Strategy — Do you and your team or organization have a clear and intentional strategy for the future culture you are trying to create? Can you articulate the desired culture you want? Do you have support and a guide to help keep you all moving in the same direction? If not, agree to develop an intentional strategy and seek partners to go with you on the journey.
  4. Flex Your Muscles — Practice working through challenges and obstacles both personally and as a team. Every time you flex those muscles and move through discomfort, you get stronger. Resolve and toughness are critical to help people navigate their way through obstacles, challenges, negativity, finger-pointing and division. Leaders help their people breathe oxygen and learn through adversity. Toughness is not about being physically stronger than others, it is about being able to be vulnerable with your people and still have the resolve to find solutions, together.
  5. Take Ownership — Be accountable for your words, your actions and your physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The best leaders connect the things they say they will do with positive accountability and action. Accountability is not a negative word; it is a positive mantra that all take ownership of. The best cultures empower everyone involved to be an owner and an ambassador for the future culture they are creating, together.

Your future culture is being created right now. It is either being led and dictated by everything outside of your control or it is being intentionally led by those who are focused on what is within their control. The mindset, actions and agreements you make with yourself and others will dictate the path you walk.

The best cultures proactively help their people breathe and navigate through obstacles, together. They make agreements with themselves and others to choose to inhale positivity and exhale negativity, blame, gossip and division. The agreements they make dictate the quality of the culture for all. The ecosystem of their culture is grown, developed cultivated and led with intentionality, one agreement at a time.

The process for developing high-performing and engaged teams never stops, and the best leaders, teams and organizations make agreements to lead an intentional strategy for how they hire, onboard, conduct performance evaluations, develop emerging leaders and recognize excellence. The best leaders invest in their teams and the mindsets they cultivate, together.

If you are experiencing a lack of clarity, energy, passion or hope for the road ahead, it may be time to make some new agreements with yourself and with those on the journey with you.

About the Author

Jason BargerJason V. Barger is the globally celebrated author of Thermostat Cultures, ReMember and Step Back from the Baggage Claim as well as the host of The Thermostat podcast. His latest book Breathing Oxygen is set to be released in 2022. As Founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, he is a coveted keynote speaker, leadership coach and organizational consultant who is committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at JasonVBarger.com.