Nonprofit Performance 360 Issue 13


Culture is Brand Image

A strong organization has a unique value proposition that distinguishes it from any other organization. This is the core of the brand for the organization. This is a magnet for attracting like-minded people to rally around a common purpose. The brand is differentiation for the organization, and the culture either represents the brand or kills the brand image. We read about how successful companies build a high-performing culture. One that immediately comes to mind for many people is Southwest Airlines.They hire for attitude and train for skill. The corporate culture sets them apart from other airlines. Rise Against Hunger, the nonprofit organization featured in Issue #11 of Nonprofit Performance Magazine , is also known for its high-performing cultures, both internally and externally. They have about 140 paid staff members around the US, and thousands of people who volunteer for projects. When a group of volunteers comes together to pack 10,000 meals, or more, it’s a social gathering in which people enjoy serving others. The culture of having fun while serving is a part of how they build continuing success. One could say the same for Habit for Humanity and other similar organizations. The culture is the brand. When employees of United Airlines acted badly, there was incredible damage done to the brand of that company. It was a form of the Brand Slaughter shared in this issue by David Corbin. People acting badly highlight the brand and kill the brand. Leadership makes the difference. Leadership is a skill and a culture. In order to create this brand differentia- tion, we can learn from the work of Mur- ray Bowen, founder of the Bowen Center

If the leader over-functions, then the teammembers under-function. If the team isn’t clear on principles, then there’s a danger of making decisions in a process called groupthink, in which everybody concedes to the wishes of others. The danger to the brand is that flawed decisions create flawed results, thereby compromising the organization’s work and reputation. Here’s the process for creating various versions of Guiding Principles: 1. The leader defines personal guiding principles. 2. The leader creates the first set of organizational guiding principles. 3. The leader checks for conflict between the two sets of principles. 4. The board reviews and updates the organizational principles. 5. The board defines principles for the board that support the organization’s principles. 6. The board reviews and reflects on one principle at each board meeting and revises it as needed, or corrects actions and processes as needed. The integrity of the brand is in its implementation at every level, beginning with the leader. Leadership is, first and foremost, influence. Authenticity and integrity are embedded at every level of the organization as a part of the brand. Hugh Ballou is a Transformational Leadership Strategist and the President of SynerVision Leadership Founda- tion. A musical conductor for forty years, Hugh has writ- ten eight books on Transformational Leadership, and works with leaders in religious organizations and busi- ness and nonprofit communities as executive coach, process facilitator, trainer, and motivational speaker, teaching leaders the fine-tuned skills employed every

at Georgetown University. Leaders create what he called Differentiation of Self by defining guiding principles for themselves. Effective leaders make principle-based de- cisions, not emotional decisions. There’s a parallel to the personal differentiation of self with organizational differentiation. Our brand is key to that differentiation; however, the people in the organization must be fully aligned with the organiza- tional principles in order to fully represent the brand. Guiding principles in Bowen Systems thinking are built on core values and are statements guiding decision-making. If ev- eryone is aligned with the carefully articu- lated principles, and the leader is actively supporting the employment of the prin- ciples in every decision and action, then there’s a synergy created with this com- mon vision.That’s what SynerVision® is all about. In order to have a consistently high- functioning culture, it’s crucial that the leader be high functioning. The culture is a reflection of the leader. If the leader is not clearly differentiated, then that lack of clarity spreads to the culture. There’s a cause and effect here somewhat similar to Napoleon Hill’s Laws of Cause and Effect and of Reciprocity.

day by orchestral conductors.

18 I Nonprofit Performance Magazine

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