Hello all – congrats on making it through another week.
We at VMF are privileged enough to participate in the Virginia Public Sector Leaders course (VPSL), a leadership development certificate program through the Virginia Tech School of Public and International Affairs.
In response to COVID-19, we’re doing some certificate work remotely, including our discussion of Daniel Coyle’s The Culture Code. In it, Coyle seeks to address the question of what makes a great organizational culture, and how leaders can build and sustain it.
One of the ideas presented is that successful cultures are ones that build belonging; how safe and connected individuals feel to one another is the primary, if not only, determinant of group performance. Coyle provides many delightful and humorous examples of this, ranging from the professional – think Google, or the NBA’s Spurs – to kindergarteners in an MIT lab.
In all of these examples, Coyle displays how the leaders in these groups build safety. They practice appreciative leadership, thanking followers for feedback and their contributions. They ensure everyone – literally everyone – has a voice. And they are humble, and model that humility.
I like how the book articulates something I feel we all intuitively know: we all work best when we feel our work matters, and, more importantly, that we matter. Furthermore, Coyle gives practical ideas that leaders can use, a welcome change from some analysis of leadership.
As my colleague John Cronin put it last week, 2020 has “opened our ears” to the many ways in which we decide who does and doesn’t feel safe in our community. As us Fellows reflect upon this, I would point to Coyle’s book as a tool we can use to inform our understanding of good, equitable organizational culture – and more importantly, how we need to keep “dialing in to the small, subtle moments” that are key in creating it.
Grace Wheaton is a VMF Fellow currently serving at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).