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Part 2: Behaviors Can Be Seen – Beliefs Can’t

Posted by: Sandy Fekete | Posted on: March 15th, 2013 | 0 Comments

Because it was part of the culture of my family of origin, I believe children should be seen and not heard.  That value (respect) drove my behavior as a child, especially in the company of adults.  This very basic example of behaviors modeling beliefs can be extended to corporate America where I believe values should be lived and rarely, if ever, changed.

In Part 1 of our look at the clash of two cultures at the Chicago-based Tribune Co., we saw how disregarding the ingrained values of the 166-year-old company hampered efforts to enforce a new culture driven by opposing values. The example illustrates the difficulties of imposing change to a company’s culture without first understanding and embracing its long-standing beliefs.  What’s the best way to validate those values?  By observing common behaviors among the leadership and staff.  Behaviors are the manifestation of beliefs! And that’s why values (and cultures) are extremely difficult to change.   When merging two cultures, each with ingrained core values, start with the commonalities.  If there are none, watch out!

Behaviors and Beliefs Word CloudNow, let’s take a look at some thoughts about beliefs and behaviors:

  • “It’s easier to behave your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a different way of behaving.” – Chris Parker
  • “Beliefs determine Behaviors which influence Relationships which in turn affect Results.”  – Tom Crane
  • “Behaviors can be seen.  Beliefs can’t. Leadership’s behaviors need to model the beliefs (actions speak louder than words…and beliefs)” –  Julie Kantor
  • “Core values are timeless and do not change, while practices and strategies should be changing all the time.” – Jim Collins
  • “It’s not a value if 99% of the people aren’t behaving that way 99% of the time.” – Sandy Fekete

Achieving alignment between beliefs and behaviors drives culture.   In an upcoming post, we’ll look at the airline industry as many carriers struggle to combine culture, processes, and strategies in the wake of merger mania.

If you are interested in learning more about your company’s culture, take the Companies Are People, Too personality assessment.

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