Archive for October, 2014

Building a High Performance Culture Part XV

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Words that Hurt: Apathy

In this fifteenth post on building a high performance culture I want to put in the “words that hurt” column a word that creates barren cultures, performances and customer experiences; apathy.

More about apathy in a moment, but to bring yourself up to date with this series, please review the following words that work from past posts; these must consistently be woven into your culture to strengthen it. The words that hurt, and their ensuing mindsets, must be just as diligently weeded out of a culture. These two categories are designed to build an evolving portrait of what a high performance culture looks like so you can evaluate your own, and strive towards the ideal.

Words that work:

Earn: to acquire through merit.

Deserve: to be worthy of; to qualify for.

Consistent: constantly adhering to the same principles.

Hope: grounds for believing something in the future will happen.

Catalyst: a person or thing that makes something happen.

Responsible: to be the primary cause of something.

Tough-minded: strong willed, vigorous, not easily swayed.

Loyal: faithfulness to one’s duties or obligations.

Passion: a strong feeling or enthusiasm about something, or about doing something. 

Words that hurt:

Fault: responsibility for failure.

Blame: to assign responsibility for failure.

Excuse: a plea offered to explain away a fault or failure.

Mediocre: average, ordinary, not outstanding.

Wish: to want something that cannot, or probably will not happen.

Entitle: a claim to something you feel you are owed.

Sloth: reluctance to work or exert effort; laziness.

Complacent: calmly content, smugly self-satisfied.

Maintain: to cause (something) to exist or continue without changing.

Apathy is defined as: a lack of enthusiasm, interest or concern. Apathetic followers are often the result of numerous leadership failures:

  1. The leaders fail to create a vision that inspires followers to higher performance.
  2. The leaders fail to create and live a mission that unites followers behind a common cause.
  3. The leaders pledge allegiance to the status quo, learning to live with what is average rather than improve or remove it.
  4. The leaders spend so much time with “stuff,” they have no time to build relationships with followers.
  5. The leaders spend so much time with “stuff,” they have no time to motivate, impact, train, coach or mentor followers.
  6. The leaders fail to engage followers by holding them accountable for their actions and results.
  7. The leaders fail to remove dead weight, lowering the morale of all who must work with the incompetent, corrupt, or inadequate.
  8. The leaders fail to live core values, or lead by example, disconnecting from followers and breaking trust in the process.
  9. The leaders stop learning, and so have nothing new to bring to the table to challenge or inspire followers, or to help them grow.
  10. The leaders routinely start and quit new programs, creating a credibility crisis as followers become drained by the latest management “flavor” (failure) of the month.
  11. The leaders fail to respect and take care of customers, fanning the flames of cultural apathy far and wide.

The list could go on, but this is a good start.

It is also entirely possible that the leader is doing everything right and still has an apathetic follower simply because he hired and is keeping the wrong person; but that in itself is another blatant leadership failure. As you can see, cultural and corporate apathy starts and stops with the leaders and their many potential failures. The good news is that leaders can also fix cultural apathy by caring enough to put their coffee down, get off their backsides, and do their jobs with consistent excellence.