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Why Building a Lighthouse is Critical to Organizational Success (and how to do it)

Is your industry feeling the impacts of the never-ending disruptive environment that we are living in? A client last week commented on how their entire team was feeling the influence of an international conflict – and that it was impacting their work, but also their mentality and their ability to focus on the work itself.

In order for your organization to thrive in this never-ending disruptive environment, it is critical to leverage 5 Rehumanizing Principles that nurture a workplace culture that enables people to show up and contribute their best selves. And it all starts with leveraging the first Rehumanizing Principle: 

Rehumanizing Principle 1 Build a Lighthouse

DEEP DIVE: BUILD A LIGHTHOUSE

What do we mean by Build a Lighthouse? Much like a lighthouse can help cut through the fog and provide clarity for where to go, having a clear purpose and operationalized core values can help do the same.

People can’t be successful unless they:

  • Know what’s expected of them
  • Feel connected to a shared vision
  • Understand how they fit into that vision
  • Learn how to show up and behave to realize that purpose and shared vision.

Building a lighthouse can provide calm and clarity in the VUCA [volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity] storm, and passion and energy to keep forging ahead. And it takes intention and deliberate practices to keep that lighthouse lit on a daily basis.

Org with or without Lighthouse

MAKE IT HAPPEN in Your Organization

To Build a Lighthouse in your organization, you have to be intentional in your approach. It’s not enough to profess your values, you have to create deliberate practices to enable people to practice and live your values. This means translating your values into concrete behaviors that show what that value looks like in action.

Core Values Quote

For example, having a value of “Respect” is vague; people can interpret that in numerous ways. But saying something like this is much clearer: We show respect for everyone by listening to understand, staying curious, assuming good intent, and talking TO them, not about them.

Think about it like a pair of glasses that brings things into focus. You need everyone in your organization to be using the same filter to guide their actions. And, it’s important to take it a step further than simply clarifying the behaviors to embedding deliberate practices in daily operations that keep that filter at the forefront for people.

Does your organization need to Build a Lighthouse – or perhaps strengthen it? Here are FOUR STEPS you can take to kickstart the construction project:

  1. Clarify your WHY (purpose). When we know our WHY, what we do (our products and services) can have more impact. If you haven’t done the work to clarify your WHY, start by engaging people in a conversation and storytelling of when they’ve been the most proud to work at your company. Listen for the key themes that provide energy and fulfillment for people; they are clues to what your WHY is. And if you have already clarified your WHY, build in a deliberate practice of regularly asking people to tell a recent story of the WHY in action – and the impact it had on them. Storytelling keeps the lighthouse lit and reconnects people emotionally to the organization and how their work matters.

  2. Refine. Once you’ve clarified your organization’s WHY, the next step is clarifying the essential actions and behaviors that enable your WHY to be a lived experience. Revisit your values and make them more specific, actionable, and unique to you. Your values show people HOW they need to show up to be in alignment with your purpose.

  3. Operationalize your Purpose and Values. Once your purpose and values have been clarified and/or refined, the next step is to create deliberate practices to keep them at the forefront for people and a consistent lived experience. Some key steps you can take to get started are to create habits to build storytelling into meetings where people share recent experiences of the purpose and values in action and the impact it had on them; make sure whatever process you use to evaluate performance is heavily weighted on people embodying the organization’s purpose and values; and leverage your purpose and values as a basis for how you recognize people.

    Enlisting the outside help of a consultant can also help facilitate these conversations, bring clarity to the process, and document the results in a meaningful way to share with every person in your organization.

  4. Create DELIBERATE and MEASURABLE practices. Without a way to measure and track how often your operationalized goals and values are showing up, there’s no way to benchmark growth and improvement (which are reasons for your organization to stop and celebrate!). Creating deliberate and measurable practices ensures that your organization’s WHY is at the forefront of all employees’ minds regularly.

To be clear, like any construction project, Building a Lighthouse takes time, intention, and planning. The final product is worth the effort! Building a lasting foundation to ground your organization’s growth is key to retaining employees, retaining customers, and expanding the organization’s business potential.

CLIENT CASE STUDY: HARCROS CHEMICALS

Harcros Chemicals is a 100+-year-old company that is a major distributor and manufacturer of industrial and specialty chemicals with 27 distribution locations in 19 states in the U.S. and operations in India. They became employee-owned in 2014; their ownership structure is unique in that everyone is an equal owner (vs. based on level of position or tenure). They needed help fostering a mindset shift to help all employees show up thinking (and acting) like an owner.

Because of their unique structure, and because we always say that people only support what they’ve helped to create, the CEO was adamant that we needed to include all employees in the process. This was a challenge because the 550+ employees were spread out geographically. But over 4 months, we facilitated 16 full-day workshops in 6 different cities.

We followed Simon Sinek’s Find Your WHY process for the first part of each workshop and asked employees:

  • When have you been the most proud to work here?
  • What’s the contribution you were making to the lives of others?
  • What was the impact of that contribution?

None of their stories were about their products or service – it was about how they showed up in service to each other, their customers, their resilient spirit, and examples of truly human leadership. Regardless of the situation or stakeholders involved, their WHY became clear: Working together, we create a positive impact and enrich the lives of others. They also clarified their HOWs (their version of values) which are the key actions every employee-owner must take to be in alignment with their WHY; these actions were also extrapolated from the storytelling.

Once their lighthouse was clear, the work began to equip employees, their leaders, and their culture ambassadors with tools to be stewards of that lighthouse and keep it brightly lit to serve as a constant guide. This proved to be incredibly helpful when the pandemic hit; their CEO has repeatedly said that if they hadn’t done the work on their culture and lighthouse, they would’ve struggled much more. Yet they had record years in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Building a Lighthouse helps your organization clarify your purpose and values – but most importantly – embedding deliberate practices into your operations helps the people in your organization to emotionally connect to their work.

TAKEAWAYS

Ready to Build a Lighthouse in your organization? Be sure to follow these tips for success:

  • Clarify your WHY
  • Refine your VALUES
  • Operationalize your purpose and values
  • Create DELIBERATE and MEASURABLE practices

Remember that this work doesn’t have to feel overwhelming; it just takes some intention. It can also be helpful to engage outside support to guide the process. The experienced Salveo Partners’ team has your back, whether it’s an organizational pulse-check, a Culture Ambassador program, or something in between.

Stay HUMAN. Stay connected. Stay safe. Show Up as a Leader.

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