Creating a Culture where Beings are at play

Peter Drucker made that famous statement – ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast’. While I’m no management guru like Drucker, but my life experiences (at 64, I’m no spring chicken) makes me think that it’s worth tweaking that statement into something that’s a bit more ‘inclusive’. I would like to say that Culture and Strategy are like the yin and yang, both needing to inter-twine to achieve Zen levels of organizational purpose and vision. While strategy is about the direction and the goals, culture is the enabler of the strategy, by creating a climate of positivity, integrity, sense of pride, sense of ownership, deep commitment, care for all stakeholders and truly living the values that the organization has defined for itself for the journey towards its purpose. Having worked my entire career for a business group that makes my chest fill with pride and emotion even today, five years after I superannuated, and having held the position of Chief Culture Officer in my organization till the day I retired.


I have seen up-close the role of culture in stewarding the organization towards its purpose, and the role of leadership in this transformation. And when the leader is a role-model for being-centred leadership, what blossoms in the organization is a being-centred culture. And that is a Zen state of being…… for the organization. After all, organizations are living entities.

Being part of the top table of five leaders entrusted with the transformation of the organization, from defending its business to consolidation to growth, and doing all this simultaneously, we were set up to succeed because at the helm of the ship was a man who embodied Being-centred leadership. Chosen by the Group Chairman to lead this critical transformation, this leader quickly chose his team and set about the task of creating the desired culture. While many initiatives were launched, including powerful leadership and behavioral transformational interventions, and total employee involvement was achieved, at the core of it was an inner transformation that was being evolved by an evolved leader. As we saw in him almost zero levels of ego, deep authenticity, constant and genuine appreciation and giving credit of success to others, deep listening, unhesitatingly acknowledging his own mistakes, taking full ownership of his words and actions, treating all people with love and respect, communicating a compelling purpose with so much authenticity and passion that people would volunteer themselves and their resources selflessly, ….. and so much more!


I could sense that all of us in the organization, especially at the leadership levels were going through our own reflection and introspection, tuning our thinking, feeling and action worlds to what we all clearly saw as a leadership model that was inspiring, effective and most importantly oozing with goodness. Being-centred leadership is infectious, and has a propensity to lead to a being-centred culture embedded deep into the organization.


While it’s not easy to completely emulate someone who is a rare example of so much being-centredness, we could see shifts happening within us, caused both by the presence of the leader among us, as also the carefully designed interventions that started with self-transformation. This created a ripple effect, and leadership across levels started on their own inner journeys, thus reaching critical mass. A positive climate of change got created across the organization, and everyone started enjoying the journey of transformation, both within themselves, and within the organization. And I must say that we all really enjoyed ourselves in that journey. Today, the organization is thriving, having overcome most of its existential challenges, that leader has retired a long time ago, but his essence still permeates in the organization, as well as in the Group.


He is remembered fondly, his stories narrated to those who joined after he had left, but knowing him, he would have just liked to melt away into the mist of the past… after all, he was always naturally adept in the dance between his being and his ego. And for him, it was always about the Organization, not the person. So, rightfully so, the heroic stories that people hear are not just about him, but scores of other people across the organization, about the dance between the ego and the being, invariably leading to goodness, and the greater common good.


So, did he create clones of himself in the organization? Definitely not, and that would have been an extremely dysfunctional thing for him to do. However, what he did infuse into the leadership team and many in the organization,was a deep desire to know ourselves, why we behave the way we do, what are things that we need to clean up within ourselves, what are the desirable changes that we need to make into our own thinking, feeling and action worlds that would make us into better beings, and through us, make our organization into a better organization – thus creating a being centred culture.


“What you are, the world is. And without your transformation, there can be no transformation of the world.” J Krishnamurthy

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