LEADS FORUM -- Which of your wolves do you feed?

What defines the workplace culture and how does it grow within an organization? Many organizations have a vision or m
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010


What defines the workplace culture and how does it grow within an organization?

Many organizations have a vision or mission statement which describes the kind of work place culture it intends to provide to the employees. These are normally shared during the employee interview and questions may be asked relating to the Vision or Mission and how they feel it fits or relates to them as a perspective employee.

Workplace culture can be defined as the "way of life" for those in an organization. Structure, behaviors, and cultures work together to create the soul of the organization. Within an organization, be it large or small, management needs to provide the basis for their culture and mission.

As a member of the Leadership Erie County 2007 class, I have had the opportunity to listen to many of our community leaders speak about leadership styles, organizational cultures, and mission or vision statements. Many vision and mission statements include powerful words such as commitment, excellence, quality, compassion, success, integrity, respect, service, unity, stewardship, empathy, or trust.

These leaders stressed the importance of these statements and the need for them to be demonstrated and lived throughout the organization. Employees may choose to work at an organization because of the Mission or Vision statement, but for the employee to become loyal to the organization they need to see leadership embrace and demonstrate it daily.

In today's workplace many employees especially the younger, may not consider loyalty to an organization as important as it once was, which creates difficulty for organizations. Loyal employees reduce the cost of turnover and training while creating the history and the culture of the organization. The leaders stressed the importance of attitude, communication, teamwork, reward and recognition, trust, and staff involvement with the organizational changes and decisions, and how these elements are crucial to creating an excellent workplace culture and retaining loyal employees.

When creating an excellent culture within society, the workplace, or within a family, we can all learn from history. It is well known the Native American Cherokee culture, as well as others, go far back in history.

I would like to share a bit of Cherokee wisdom, shared by a manager who was asked by a staff member to share at their department meeting. One evening an Old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside of people.

He said, "My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all. One is Bad; it is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed arrogance, self pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is Good; it is joy, peace, love, hope serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith." The grandson thought about it for a minute, and then asked his grandfather, "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."