Mark Sanborn, President of Sanborn & Associates, Inc.

culture is everything we think and believe that results in what we do and achieve.Mark is the President of Sanborn & Associates, Inc., an idea lab for leadership development and turning ordinary into extraordinary. lists Mark as one of the top leadership experts in the world.

Mark has given over 2600 presentations in every state and fourteen countries. He has authored 8 books and more than two dozen videos and audio training programs. His programs are taught by Crestcom International in 90 countries and he is an adjunct professor at the University of Memphis.

Mark is a member of the Speaker Hall of Fame and is a past president of the National Speakers Association.

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Video Summary

We got an opportunity to catch up with Mark Sanborn, President of Sanborn & Associates, Inc. and one of the top leadership experts in the world.

Video Transcript

Hi, this is Mark Sanborn, in my office in Denver, Colorado. There are very few things in Global Business least understood than culture. Not only do executives have a hard time defining what it is, they have even harder time creating it, changing it or maintaining it.

In the next five or six minutes. I’m going to give you a very concise and simple definition of culture and five levers that you can use to create and change it. Now keep in mind in five or six minutes, you will master culture, but you will have the framework that you need to get your hands wrapped around it, and you’ll have some tools. It’ll help you be a more effective creator of culture.

So what is culture?
I’ve heard it defined, any number of ways from the way we do things around here, to the atmosphere of an organization and those are fine, definitions, but I’m a pragmatist.

I believe that culture is everything we think and believe that results in what we do and achieve. Let me say that again. It’s everything that we think, which is intellectual and believe which is emotional both are important. It’s not enough to have the stereo and Mo sterile emotionality of work, people have to have their heart as well, as their heads invested in a healthy culture. Those two things determine what we do, and I might add, how well we do them, and ultimately the results that we achieve.

So how do you design for culture? So that’s the problem. Most leaders have a culture by default, not culture as defined.

Here are the five levers-

The first is your philosophy that’s your vision, your mission, your values, your goals all the things that you have built your organization around. Even if you have those things, there are two problems: 1) most team members, neither know what they are or necessarily are committed to them. 2) the problem that you have is that they’re often very abstract. They are practical, you are unable to implement them and act on them. So begin by looking at and sharing your philosophy.

The second lever of God is hiring and firing opposite ends of the same spectrum. Here’s a big idea. Higher for culture, not just function. If you have three candidates for a position don’t just look at who has the best skills but look at who has the best skills and the best fit with the organizational culture that you desire. In the same way, don’t let culture killer stay on your team. If they’re under-performing, and or if they aren’t healthy, and contributing to the culture of your organization, that’s a reason to consider letting them go.

The third is education and training. Education is intellectual, it’s about knowledge training as skill-based people need both. If you go back to your philosophy for people to really understand it, they have to be educated, you have to share information and be open in your communication.

So make sure not only the people have the skills they need for a successful culture but the understanding as well.

The fourth is incentives, and reinforcements. There’s an old adage and it’s a bit corny but it’s true. What gets rewarded gets done. if you reward the wrong things, you’ll have the wrong kind of culture. If you espouse a democracy and participative environment and yet you reward the games, players and those who get very political you have undermined what it is you’re trying to achieve for your culture. What you incentivize people with and how you reinforce those who buy in and support the culture is critical. And finally, last but not least, communications, and meetings.

We spend about a third of our day on meetings, depending on what profession you’re in. So those meetings should be used to reiterate to repeat to emphasize and to reinforce the important things that people need to know about the culture, the work to be done, your aspirations and why they’re doing it. All communication should be culture consistent but meetings are especially important.

Using those five levers, I would reverse engineer and ask yourself, if we could start with a blank slate or a blank piece of paper, how would we design our culture? What would it look like, what would it be like, what would it be like to work here and then use those five levers that I’ve just explained to create that culture?

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