Super Bowl Edition: Cults vs. Bares
OK, for those who are searching blogs looking for some football insight, seeking whether Dungy's Indianapolis Colts can beat Smith's Chicago Bears, wondering if the Bears defense can go up against the Colts offense, contemplating how Manning will match up with Grossman... well, you've found somebody who'd rather talk about two different types of corporate cultures and the impacts each has on office politics. Sorry, but the pun was too sweet to pass up.
On one end of the corporate culture continuum, there are "cult" companies. Just like religious cults, these companies thrive on controlling their employees. The leaders maintain a double standard, holding followers to higher standards of discipline while allowing themselves an absence of accountability. The "cult" company emphasizes isolation as a means of controlling its members; if they are not communicating with "outsiders" then they are easier to command and manipulate. As part of that, they "brainwash" their employees with an elitist mindset: there's really nothing better out there. If somebody ventures out, the "world is flat and you'll fall off the edge" doctrine is pushed. This overbearing culture is a hotbed for office politics, as it creates conflicts over scarce resources, jockeying for position in the "kingdom," and egocentric issues that make facts and objective information difficult to prevail. Silence is perpetuated through a culture of "don't ask, don't tell" and "if I told you, I'd have to kill you" - so nobody says anything that could get them in trouble.
By contrast, a "bare" company focuses on openness. Collaboration is encouraged and rewarded. Information is shared willingly among employees. Relationships are honest and open (even when the truth hurts), and trust is fostered in a spirit of teamwork. Leaders lead, but they also serve in a spirit of humility; there are no naked emperors in a "bare" organization. Commitment is a natural by-product of how the employees feel; it is not forced through an overbearing culture. Networking is encouraged, both inside and outside the company. If an employee leaves, it is celebrated because it is believed that the employee and the company can both grow from the separation. Office politics have a hard time finding a foothold in an organization such as this. Resources are shared, healthy competition propels the company forward, and data balances passion to allow for decisions to be made with eyes wide open.
While you are shouting for your team tomorrow, you might stop and think if you are a fan of your own organization. Do you wear your corporate-wear with the same pride that your sport your Bears shirt? Do you cheer for your colleagues the way you screamed for the Colts a couple of weeks ago during their amazing comeback against the Patriots? Do you celebrate your milestones in the same fashion that you revel in the halftime festivities? In short, do you work for a cult or a bare?
FIRST HALF UPDATE: Thought you might like to see a few of the sites I used as sources on cults. All have some interesting checklists that you can apply to your organization. Looking at them was interesting from a professional perspective, comparing them to actual companies with whom I've worked.
Again, look at these lists from an organizational view rather than a religious view. You'll see some interesting parallels.