Building a culture of fellowship

Fellowship is defined as a friendly association, especially with people who share the same purpose or interests.

As the producer of the Change Cultivators podcast, I have the privilege of sitting in on the conversations that co-hosts, Patrick Fitzmaurice and Rozzyn Boy, have with our awesome guests.

One of our most recent guests was Vinod Kumar – the global CEO of Vodafone Business – a tried and tested leader. 

How refreshing it was to talk to a successful CEO of a major corporation who approaches the topic of leadership and change leadership with such humbleness and realness – listen to the full conversation here.

Having operated across geographies, cultures, and highs and the lows, Vinod’s passion for creating a culture that embraces and thrives in change is very clear. 

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is a famous quote from legendary management consultant and writer Peter Drucker – but Vinod added to it by saying ‘not only for breakfast but for lunch and dinner too’.

Be Real and build trust

Being real and building trust is something that has been a golden thread through nearly all of our discussions with change leaders from across the globe – if you want to be a successful change leader, you’ve got to be real and build and earn trust.

You can’t have the at-home role and the at-work role. The power of true leadership will shine through in who you actually are as a person, not just as an employee or CEO.

In being real, you will begin to establish trust. Whilst this may seem simplistic, the fact is that trust is a major issue in all spheres of life today – sadly, it is not just a given anymore.

In fact, The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that people don’t know where or who to turn to for reliable information anymore. A majority of respondents believe that government leaders (57 percent), business leaders (56 percent), and journalists (59 percent) are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false. These are very high percentages!

Who would have thought that trust would become such an influential differentiator? The investment of creating trust between people is critical today in leading organizations through change. This often starts with leaders opening up to being real and truthful in all that they do – real and true is what people are looking for.

Building fellowship around a sense of purpose

Fellowship is defined as a friendly association, especially with people who share the same purpose or interests. It is insightful to hear a leader speak of fellowship – human minds aggregating around a cause, people putting their energies together, putting their hearts together, putting their sorrows together, putting their dreams together, and getting lifted up as a result.

Building fellowship around a change-focused cause and organizational purpose is not just about beating targets. Common purpose is about getting aligned and debating. Talking about options, fighting over them, and then finally agreeing – this is what creates a common purpose.

The analogy I like to use here is that we can all paint with different colors; we can all be differently shaped and formed paintbrushes; but when we are all painting on a common canvas and a common vision, then we are building fellowship around a sense of purpose.

Create a no-fear environment

Another common thread from many of our guests has been that leaders need to take the fear out of change. 

If you’re trying to be transformational, help people take the fear out of change.

Change leaders need to create a culture, first and foremost, where people can be themselves. Cassandra Worthy (the world’s leading change enthusiast) spoke about this, Duncan Wardle (ex-head of creativity and innovation at The Disney Company) spoke about this in their chats with Change Cultivators.

This culture is a few things:

  • A clear value system – on what the organization stands for and doesn’t stand for
  • Authentic – creating an environment where people can be themselves
  • A pact – that we have with each other on respect, on giving space to each other and being inclusive, and not judging people
  • An understanding – that each organization has a unique culture in which people can thrive
  • Performance – we are all here to make the organization, the markets we deal in and the communities we are from, better. Profit and winning at all costs does not breed a culture of trust. 

Listen to the full conversation here with Vinod Kumar.

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