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  • Writer's pictureRachelle Millar

How to have a blooming great life! -understanding culture, climate and leadership.

If a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower. For the flower, this is the soil, the fertiliser, water, who speaks to it, how they speak to it, the sunshine and all the energy that goes into it's growth. Of course there would be one thing that would have to be present the most and that is believing that the flower should bloom!

If the flower is in a container, it does not matter what type of container it is in, whether it is pottery or plastic, wood or tin. Many times we think change the environment and that means the container. Change a room and make it pretty, build another classroom in a school or recently for me the priority of focus on the club grounds, the place in which people develop and grow, the container.

Fixing the environment is actually fixing the culture.

The climate is also important for a flower to bloom. We may not be able to fix the climate exactly right, but we can test the climate and make sure that it is right for growing flowers in. Can we repair the damage, absolutely, I have seen buds cut away and then the right environment be created, a bit of fertiliser and water even can have a highly positive effect almost instantly. So we can set up the environment so when the right climate is added, it blooms. So we cannot always blame the climate for a lack of success. But we could blame a lack of long term vision.

Last year, when the ground was arid and dry and we had a drought. My lovely friend Missi, pulled the weeds from my vege patch and put mulch around my silver-beet and spinach and it stayed that way all summer until the rains came and it all started to grow again. Throughout winter I had silver-beet, thanks to her love, care and experience. Now I know what to do through this summer, add the mulch and trust that it will grow again in winter when the rain comes again.

This is where vision as a leader comes in, it doesn't matter if you didn't know the right ingredient that would make your team bloom.

What matters is that you care enough to find out.

If you listen very carefully, even to the one's that are not talking, people, flowers and horses are telling you things. And it is important to really tune into what they are saying.

In the horse world, horses show you well ahead of time if they are in pain or unhappy with a flick of an ear, this happens before you get a hoof full! Not listening to your horse can have dire consequences in public or for the public. Sometimes, something like a supplement can calm your horse, but when you add this supplement, you have to keep putting it in the feed everyday for at least 3 weeks before you may see a change. Not just trying something once and saying well, it didn't work. You have to invest in it.

Like a team of people, listen carefully, who is not speaking up, what do they have to really say. Why are they so silenced?

What of the 5 key foundations to culture is missing?

You see there is culture in any organisation. There may be values that it espouses to, but are they the values that are being demonstrated?

Every time there is a group of people with the same values and mission it is a cult, often we hear of cults in a negative light. Like after someone has escaped because they were held inside of that cult by some sort of power and that power was abused and so they left. Most times negative cults are stopped due to the criminal acts of it's members and the people are liberated by a larger governing body such as the law. At the end of the day a cult for the people in it is either a negative or a positive experience. The job of a leader is to ensure that it is a positive cult and not a negative one.

Much of the time I teach about leadership, culture and inside of all of this is an understanding of power. There are many forms of power and it is important to understand what and how it is operating. Raven describes the five forces of power; Coercive, Legitimate, Reward, Expert and Referent. But there is one other that can happen inside of an organisation and that is Factional Power.

Factional power - Check out Wikipedia for it's explanation of this - but to cut to the chase, it is a group inside a group that pursues self-interest at the expense of the greater good. Despite all the values and wording inside a governing organisation that it is focused on certain values to operate as a collective, if there is factional power then that can override the ideal culture.

When you are a leader, it is incredibly important to use your legitimate power (the power that comes from your position) with great responsibility. Within meetings it is important to ensure that there is a balance of power within the meeting. That people are heard, that time is respected, etc. It is your job to ensure that everyone feels powerful. You can do this by building up other people's power within the group and reducing your own power. Such as if you have got to your position by your expertise, ensuring that you increase others expertise and develop them so that they may be able to take over your position one day.

If you do not do this, what happens is there is no one to take your position. We can see this inside a club, if a club doesn't invest in and hold it's youth, then there is no one to take over. And secondly, if there is a focus on a club's facilities especially if high maintenance perhaps from a time when the club had more members or more money, then the money/grants go towards their upkeep rather than investing in it's people. I was explaining this to a client the other day, she was setting up a property business, but her marketing was leaving out the people. I said, put the people back in. Just after my conversation with her that cleared up what she was offering, she landed her first paying client.

So, if you are not blooming in your job, or your child isn't blooming at their school or you are not blooming in life. Then fix the environment, even if it means leaving your workplace, school or club and finding an environment in which you can bloom.

And have a blooming great life!

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