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Bring your 'A' game

Jason V. Barger

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The proactive process to shape the team culture you want.

We live in an instant gratification world where people want things to change immediately. Every leader, team and organization wants to snap their fingers and magically arrive at their desired outcomes.

However, there is no quick fix or hack for developing leaders and the team culture you desire. It’s a process. The most compelling teams and organizations invest time, energy and resources into shaping the culture they want, not just the culture they’ve experienced in the past.

They know that one of their greatest competitive advantages in today’s world is not just what they do as a company, but the culture of how they do it. People want to be a part of a compelling culture and contribute their skills to something greater than themselves.

And it’s not a top-down dictator style of leadership that is compelling to people, but a participatory style that invites cross-functional representation throughout the organization to share in the dreaming and creation of the desired culture.

The process to create your culture requires six A’s and participatory leadership:


Many cultures don’t even know where they are on the map. Where are you succeeding and where are you falling short? Be honest about your current state. Momentum begins to build when you can establish urgency and identify opportunities to improve.


People are the lifeblood of every organization, and in today’s world, your people want to participate. They want their mind and heart to be engaged and connected to the “why,” the mission at the heart of your efforts. It takes time and space to establish alignment with your people and constant effort to stay in alignment along the way.


What do you want to be different in the future? You have to be able to dream together and paint the vision for the future culture you desire. Give your people the opportunity to see beyond your current reality and into possibilities for a newly created future.


If you can’t describe where you’re going and the values you want to guide you as a culture, then you can’t be surprised when it doesn’t exist. Your people need common language to see and share the story of where you’re heading, together. Language drives behavior, so the best cultures have compelling language linked to actions and behaviors for the future they are creating.


All change requires action. However, action without vision and alignment is a nightmare. Once the aspirational vision for the culture is established, the best leaders and teams empower a bias toward action and identify the next steps they will take to stimulate progress. All change happens when actions grow out of an intentional vision and spirit.


Culture-shaping is not a drive-thru experience. It’s not a one-time company meeting or a singular poster on the wall. Every culture must create habits that anchor the values within their organizational ecosystem. The organization intentionally anchors them with their structures for how they hire, onboard employees, identify emerging leaders, do performance evaluations, raise the bar on leadership at all levels, and develop and empower culture ambassadors.

Great companies, teams, communities and collections of humans anywhere in the world don’t just magically happen. They are grown, developed, cultivated and led with intentionality.

The process for developing high-performing and engaged cultures never stops, and the best leaders, teams and organizations are committed to the continuous journey of development, vision, communication, engagement, authenticity and action. 

Jason V. Barger is the founder of Step Back Leadership Consulting, where he is also a leadership coach and organizational consultant committed to engaging the minds and hearts of people and growing compelling cultures. Learn more at


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