How Elevated Leaders Think About Culture

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

As I study Elevated Leaders (8% of leaders who operate from a Mind 3.0 vertical altitude) and compare them to Most Leaders (85% of leaders who operate from a Mind 2.0 vertical altitude), one the primary differences is their relationship with and focus on culture.

Let me explain.

The Two Curves

Whether we acknowledge them or not, there are two curves impacting any business:

  • The Culture Curve
  • The Financial Curve

Their relationship looks like this:

Culture and Financial Curves

There are two key points to take away from this figure:

  • The Culture Curve precedes the Financial Curve
  • The Culture Curve sets the ceiling for the Financial Curve

Elevated Leaders Compared to Most Leaders

What I have learned comparing Elevated Leaders to Most Leaders is:

What are the Implications of Knowing about these Two Curves?

There are three big implications of knowing about these two curves.

When to Reinvent

Understanding these two curves helps leaders understand when they need to reinvent their organizations.

The need for reinvention is contingent upon the Culture Curve, not the Financial Curve.

Most Leaders feel the need for reinvention when they hit the downside of the Financial Curve.

Elevated Leaders understand that if they want their Financial Curve to continue to go up, they need to make sure that the Culture Curve never declines.

A common phenomenon that I see in many organizations that I work within is: They have turned the corner on the Culture Curve, but are still on the upside of the Financial Curve. Thus, the leaders have a hard time sensing that anything is wrong and feel no urgency to make changes in the organization.

Chart - Most Leaders vs Elevated Leaders 2

Life in the system

So, what can leaders do to better gauge where their organization is at on the Culture Curve so that they can better know when to reinvent their culture?

Inspired by Chief Reinvention Officer, Nadya Zhexembayeva, I have learned that one of the best ways to gauge where an organization’s culture is at is by measuring and being attuned to how much “life” there is in the system.

When “life in the system” is increasing, you know you are on the upslope of the Culture Curve. When “life in the system” stops improving, you know you are at the top of the Culture Curve and need to reinvent. When “life in the system” is decreasing, you know you are on the downslope of the Culture Curve, and should expect the overall performance of the organization to soon reach its peak and turn downward.

Acknowledging this, a big question is: How does one measure “life in the system?”

There is no one right way to do this, and every organization is different. But, here are some things to consider measuring:

  • Amount of innovation going on
  • Number of leads generated
  • Employee engagement scores
  • Retention rate
  • Number of hires by referrals
  • Customer service scores
  • Psychological safety
  • Perceptions of feeling burned out
  • Connection to purpose

Being an Elevated Leader

I have learned that the most Elevated Leaders are Gardener-Minded Leaders.

They are not fruit focused (Financial Curve), they are root focused (Culture Curve). They seek to cultivate the right environment for their organization and employees to thrive and grow. They are concerned about and tuned into the amount of “life in the system,” and they are willing to reinvent their organization before they feel the need to from a Financial Curve perspective.

Here are some great examples of leaders who understood these principles and acted upon them to transform their organizations:

If you want to help your leaders better understand these principles and become more Elevated Leaders, I want to work with you. Let’s connect.

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