Culture is created by what leaders pay attention to

A colleague recently posited, “Organizational culture is created by what leaders pay attention to.” This phrase really stuck with me. It’s one of those sentences that is totally obvious and yet profound at the same time.

It made me think about whether my first question to another leader is about their performance or their heart. i.e. “How many people came to X?” or “How much money for raised for Y?” As opposed to, “Tell me a story about a changed life you’ve seen recently in your sphere of responsibility.” The side that I choose to emphasize shows what I value as a leader and in the organization I lead.

As a leader in a non-profit, I want to get things done, but I realize that my leadership must come from the heart. Culture is often much more about the intangible than the tangible. So often I lead from the nuts and bolts or spreadsheets and digital properties that tangibly get work done rather than the sensitive spirit that shows people I care or am truly interested in seeing lives changed. (I do genuinely care.)

I want to pay attention to results, but I also know that results flow from paying attention to things like doing the little things well, morale, staff engagement etc…

I’m still processing what exacatly the right things to pay attention to are both tangibly and intangibly.

How do you as a leader decide what the right things are to pay attention to?


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