What we have witnessed over the last few months is organisations under the spotlight. From our Aussie cricket team to our world class banking sector, the heat has been widespread and extremely sobering for those involved. Some of our most competitive and professional organisations being made an example in the name of culture.

I, like many find it hard to watch members of our national cricket team being brought to tears in the name of culture as they apologised for ball tampering on prime-time television. The pain of their decisions evident for all to see.

We as a society find it easy to pass judgement, especially on those we have placed on a pedestal. Our sporting heroes. In the limelight week in, week out as they go about representing their club, state or nation.

Basically going to work like the rest of us.

And the minute performance is questioned out comes the word, “culture”. The C bomb. Dropped, like dirty washing with the attempt at catching our worst thoughts, judgements even. “A club in crisis” the headlines read as we make sense of what has just happened. Our favourite club seemed so great just last week we question. No teamwork or even worse our marquee player wants out.

So, is culture really to blame?

Engagement and Culture are like a well-formed iceberg. Engagement resembles the ice above the surface for all to see. A symptom of culture yes. It’s the way people feel towards an organisation. Players feel towards their coach, their team mates, even the media. Encapsulating their feelings, often short-term and fleeting. The climate you might say. And yes, teamwork fits into this category.

Culture, the submerged however, represents the large majority of the iceberg.

Not visible to the eye. The deeper, fundamental cause of outcomes in individuals, groups or organisations. It focuses on the norms and beliefs of how we are expected to behave. It’s “how we do things around here” or even “how I am expected to behave in order to fit-in, even survive in the organisation”.

If you are a sports administrator, coach or even executive I’m sure you feel this pressure. Often.

The culture word being thrown at the window of your club the minute the team don’t perform, a player commits a crime or two players have a disagreement. Like any workplace, household or group of people for that matter, your club has a culture that can become a constructive and sustainable one over time.

Sometimes the hype is right. It is a deep seated problem within the club. A drastic shift in culture is necessary. Needed.

The culture journey however wont bear fruit next week, next month or next…………well maybe next year. But changing the culture of an organisation is not a band-aid solution. Its ingrained in the fabric. “The way we do things around here”.

So next time the C word gets thrown at your club consult an expert to determine which piece of the iceberg is to blame. Is it merely a climate issue or is there something far bigger that needs addressing?

Either way, judgement will continue from those at home watching your team on national television.

Knowing your source of the problem will just mean the judgement happens a little less often.


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