6 Principles That Shape the Culture of Your Organization

A church without values is like a river without banks-just a large puddle. It is missing an opportunity for white-water movement. As with any organization, your church has a set of shared motives, or values, underneath the surface of everyday activity. The problem is that they stay weak because they are unidentified and unharnessed in guiding the future.

The role of the leader is to identify the most important values and pull them above the waterline of people’s perception. Once they are in clear view, the leader can nurture their development, enabling the church to do more of what it does best.

Once your people know and own the values, it’s like creating the banks of a river to channel energy and momentum. Think of values not as what we do but rather as what characterizes everything we do.

Is it time to shape a culture change?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Built on Values, by Ann Rhoades

Most leaders know that a winning, engaged culture is the key to attracting top talent—and customers. Yet, it remains elusive how exactly to create this ideal workplace —one where everyone from the front lines to the board room knows the company’s values and feels comfortable and empowered to act on them.

Based on Ann Rhoades’ years of experience with JetBlue, Southwest, and other companies known for their trailblazing corporate cultures, Built on Values reveals exactly how leaders can create winning environments that allow their employees and their companies to thrive. Companies that create or improve values-based cultures can become higher performers, both in customer and employee satisfaction and financial return, as proven by Rhoades’ work with JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Disney, Loma Linda University Hospitals, Doubletree Hotels, Juniper Networks, and P.F. Chang’s China Bistros.

Built on Values provides a clear blueprint for how to accomplish culture change, showing:

  • How to exceed the expectations of employees and customers
  • How to develop a Values Blueprint tailored to your organization’s goals and put it into action
  • Why it’s essential to hire, fire, and reward people based on values alone, and
  • How to establish a discipline for sustaining a values-centric culture

Built on Values helps companies get on the pathway to greatness by showing the exact steps for either curing an ailing company culture or creating a new one from scratch.


Many leaders know what a great culture looks like. They are just unsure as to how to implement one.

Culture develops, regardless of whether or not it is defined. And if the values you’ve formally written down don’t match the existing culture, those values will be ignored.

You can create a model for culture change that will energize your teams every day, and their energy will carry throughout your church’s ministries.

A high-performing culture doesn’t just happen. It can’t be forced into being through willpower. But it can become an inevitability if you create the right environment to foster it.

Six fundamental principles inform every successful values-based culture.

Principle 1 – You can’t force culture. You can only create environment.

A culture is the culmination of the leadership, values, language, people, processes, rules, and other conditions, good or bad, present within an organization.

Principle 2 – You are on the outside what you are on the inside – no debate.

Many leaders do not understand that you cannot create a great organization if you treat your team members badly.

Principle 3 – Success is doing the right things the right way.

By defining your values and the behaviors based on them, you simplify the task of day-to-day decision-making.

Principle 4 – People do exactly what they are incented to do.

Reward the behaviors you want, taking into account how they lead to an outcome.

Principle 5 – Input = Output.

Organizations will only get out of something what they are willing to put into it.

Principle 6 – The environment you want can be built on shared, strategic values and financial responsibility.

Conscious action, beginning with determining a set of shared values, can set up the necessary condition for encouraging a culture that will make an organization great.

Ann Rhodes, Built on Values


List each of the six principles above on a separate chart tablet sheet. Gather your leadership team together for a two-hour discussion, spending 15 minutes on each, brainstorming your team’s thoughts and comments about how each of the six principles are – or are not – in place in your organization.

After you have completed all six, spend the last 30 minutes reflecting on how you can use these principles to improve the values and culture at your church.

Remember, values are the motivational flame of the church. They are the shared convictions that guide your actions and reveal your strengths. Values answer, “Why do we do what we do at our church?” They are springboards for daily action and filters for decision-making. Values represent the conscience of the organization. They distinguish your philosophy of ministry and shape your culture and ethos.

If your values fail to inspire the staff, there is no way that they will shape the culture you are seeking. If your values are boring and predictable, maybe it is time for an update. Click here to schedule a conversation with an Auxano Navigator around values development.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 89-1, released March 2018.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<


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