Conscious Culture vs Unconscious Default Culture

November 11, 2015 1st Anniversary of our book launch in Southeast Asia.
Between conscious and unconscious culture of old and new values and behaviors, of unconscious victimization and conscious choice, is a cultural transition of major proportions. Many organizations are undecided about which way to go and are some type of combination of both worlds. They are unsure and fear the unknown. Fear keeps people connected to traditions, tied to values that defined and created the past. It takes courage to learn and grow, to face the fears of conscious incompetence to become consciously competent.
An important question to ask yourself as a leader: Do you have conscious culture or do you have an unconscious default culture? Are you aware of what is driving your culture and creating your brand in the market place, attracting the top talent, maximizing profit and your human potential?

Culture and Brand

An unconscious default culture is typically the result of old-style leadership, bureaucracy, and hierarchy. It can be seen in the following values and behaviors:
Good employees keep their heads down and do what they are asked to do without complaint.
Good employees know how to make the boss look good.
People who raise uncomfortable questions are troublemakers.
People who rock the boat will pay for it; if not now, later.
Loyalty to the boss/organization means covering up problems, truths, and even ethical issues that could make us look bad.
Achieving individual agendas is the whole game. There are winners and losers and Im no loser. Blaming, judging, undermining others, scapegoating and other forms of cover your ass behavior are the norm. These behaviors involve individuals, whole teams, and entire departments.
These fear-based values and behaviors will not be present at all times; however, they are dysfunctional and have the effect of decreasing employee engagement, productivity, and performance. To fully drive fear out of the workplace, It is essential for all stakeholders to be actively involved in rejecting these limiting values and behaviors.’
Actively rejecting means action and personally behaving in ways that contradict these negative background beliefs.
Organizations with high levels of entropy have messengers who get shot and leaders who don’t listen. Both are stereotypes reflecting our fears of one another and our need for self-protection. The courage to speak up and the courage to listen are ways to manifest change. It requires courage to stay in the tension of the moment, the anxiety, and particularly the fear that our sincere engagement with others might cause damage, distress, and repercussions – or that we will simply experience humiliation and anger because nothing will be done about the organizational problems we chose to bring forward. If we have two enemies in this world, it is precisely the fear of repercussions and the belief that nothing will change.
Unconscious default culture lacks the courage to stand up and consciously choose to create a different kind of workplace, one where people seek and express understanding rather than make disconnected and insensitive speeches, or hide behind one another’s backs. Creating conscious culture happens only if leaders refuse to let fear guide their steps because fear is the essence of the old ways of behaving. Conscious culture happens only if we choose to address what is right in front of us.
This all works best when it is done in the name of being of service to the greater good, to one another and to our customers being the best for the world, not just in the world.
We have all experienced and lived limiting values and behaviors. We have all contributed to negativity at one time or another, when things have gone wrong or there have been tough challenges. Here are some of the ways we can create a conscious culture together. To quote Mahatma Gandhi: You must be the change you wish to see in the world….
It is essential to understand that rejecting a default culture is not the same as rejecting people.

Default versus Conscious Culture

To create a healthy conscious culture we need to become consciously competent and aware of the source and impact of the limiting behaviors and values. Only then can we begin to take ownership and responsibility for change. The learning begins with unconscious incompetence, totally unaware there is a problem. Once we are informed of the problem we move to conscious incompetence: knowing there is a problem, but not how to solve it. With dialogue and continuous learning in action learning focus groups we develop conscious competence. Once the new behaviors become ingrained we become unconsciously competent, where the behaviors are natural and automatic.

Conscious Competency Model

Figure 12-2 : Conscious Competence Model


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To find out what your personal values are that empower you to higher performance and productivity, take a Free Personal Values Assessment

To learn how well aligned you are with the culture in your organization contact us for an – Individual Values Assessment

To learn how to map, measure and manage the culture of your team or organization with our Culture Value Assessment for Teams and Organizations.

Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Leadership Speaker Joanna Barclay (2)Contact Us Joanna BarclayJoanna Barclay, Speaker, Author, Leadership Consultant building high performing values-driven organizational culture.

With 30 years in business transformation working with organizations, Joanna’s passion lies in working with leaders, facilitating active participation in organizational change, developing resourceful teams and aligning strategic objectives. Her goal is to help organizations become high performing and values-driven, where people take ownership, build commitment and bridge communication gaps. As CEO of the Culture Leadership Group, she ensures successful transformation from concept through to implementation.


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