The secret to culture is found in three distinct categories

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The secret to culture is found in three distinct categories

Researcher Amy Edmondson identified three distinct categories that foster psychological safety — the linchpin of culture.

These three categories are beliefs, behaviors, and constructs.

The beliefs are respect for peers’ abilities, a genuine interest in each other as people, an environment that welcomes your thoughts, and a shared belief of positive intentions.

The behaviors are seeking or giving feedback, and making changes and improvements (versus avoiding change or sticking with the status quo).

The constructs are obtaining or providing help or expertise, experimenting, and engaging in constructive conflict or confrontation.

In a Better Leaders Better Schools’ mastermind, we leverage these categories to offer a world class professional development experience.

There are a number of ways we do this.

In today’s post, I’d like to share three simple ways you can enhance your culture by fostering a greater sense of psychological safety via these categories.

Checking-in on your people builds trust

“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.”

— Bryant H. McGill

A good check-in question represents the belief category of psychological safety and demonstrates a genuine interest in your peers.

Don’t overcomplicate what makes a good check-in question.

They should be quick, open-ended, and challenge colleagues to share something that communicates to you how they are doing right now.

Here are five example check-in questions you can use immediately:

  • What’s it like to be you right now?
  • What was the hard part today?
  • What would you like to celebrate today?
  • If today was a color, what color would it be and why?
  • What exciting project are you working on these days?

Try integrating a check-in question at the beginning of any meeting to show a genuine interest in your peers and nurture the foundation of high-performing teams.

Take action on people’s ideas to show you value them

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

— Muhammad Ali

Recently I started using a quarterly survey at Better Leaders Better Schools (BLBS).

The purpose of the survey is to measure what I believe the Brand Promises are within a BLBS mastermind.

Surveys also fall into the behavior category and represent making change and improvements.

At the time of writing this post, 24 leaders have shared their experiences within the survey.

Here are the results:

  • 88% of members agree that the mastermind made them a better leader this quarter.
  • 83% of members believe the mastermind challenges them to take consistent action.
  • 100% of members feel they can “talk about what I need to talk about” without fear of consequence or judgement in the mastermind.
  • 92% of members can rely on their peers for help.
  • 92% of members believe that the mastermind is an essential part of their growth.
  • 63% of members give the mastermind a 5-star experience; 29% give a 4-star rating; 8% give it a 3-star rating.

In addition to this quantitative data, I also asked “What is one thing that would make the mastermind better?”

We received generous feedback from our members which will allow us to take action and make improvements to the overall experience.

Improve performance by solving your team’s challenges via a hot seat

“The best part of the mastermind is the ‘Hot Seat’ . . . Getting to hear about the challenges that school leaders from around the world are currently facing, and then being able to brainstorm through those situations is invaluable to my effectiveness as a school leader.”

— Demetrius Ball

There are a number of reasons the mastermind is a great professional development experience for school leaders.

The top three benefits:

  • Access to the best leadership ideas across industries
  • Instantly plug into a powerful network of driven leaders
  • The hot seat — each week solve a major challenge you face

The hot seat represents the construct category of psychological safety and is the quintessential aspect of providing help and expertise within the structure of a mastermind.

The hot seat rotates through our members each week.

Here’s how it works …

A member will bring their #1 challenge or a project they want to get off the ground and present it to their “personal board of directors.”

After sharing some brief context, the mastermind will:

  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Provide stories of failure and success
  • Share tools and resources
  • Challenge the member to level up their approach

At the end of the hot seat time, each member walks away from the hot seat with a much more robust approach to solving a challenge or successfully launching a project.

Now you may be new to the concept of a mastermind, but incorporating the hot seat into your next meeting is completely doable.

Make space for a team member to share where they are stuck or challenged and allow the team to serve this individual and solve their problem.

(for a deeper look into masterminds, I recommend checking out my new book on the topic here … use the code SUMMER21 for 25% off the cover price + free shipping).

Ready to Level Up?

Go from WORST to FIRST or take your GOOD school and make it GREAT, by taking action on five easy to implement ideas that will catapult your culture effort this year.

Join the FREE 5-day culture boot camp today!




Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀

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Daniel Bauer

Daniel Bauer

Host of the Better Leaders Better Schools podcast with over one million downloads 🚀

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