Focus on Mood, not Culture – (Insight from Jeffrey Hayzlett, and others…)

Jeffrey Hayzlett

Jeffrey Hayzlett

This week, at the Success North Dallas gathering (welcome back, Bill Wallace), Jeffrey Hayzlett spoke.  Jeffrey is Chairman of the C-Suite Network.  But mainly, Jeffrey is something of a force of nature.  He does not mince words.  He does not have much of a filter.  And, among other good things he had to say, he said this:

“Focus on Mood, not Culture!”

“Focus on mood, not culture,” is a direct quote from Jeffrey (I wrote it in my notes).  He also said (my paraphrase) that culture is too big, too hard to change, too…almost indefinable.  As he said this, I thought of these sentences from the book Change by John Kotter:

First, people often have great difficulty describing their own cultures, or agreeing on what their cultures are. Second, people have difficulty at least in part because cultural attributes were passed down informally and not through any intentional process.

One often hears in the business press a report of how “in the past year we have successfully changed the culture,” which, unless we are talking about a very small organization, is a fantasy.  

I wish I could have stopped Jeffrey Hayzett right then and there, and said – forget the rest of your talk, let’s talk about this mood thing.

I think he is onto something here.  Mood can be impacted; changed.  And, alas, changed for the worse as well as for the better.

I think of:  a good mood; a bad mood; a positive mood; an optimistic mood/hopeful mood; a pessimistic mood; a tense mood; a happy mood; an unhappy mood. 

In other words, don’t focus on corporate culture; focus on the corporate mood.

Jeffrey implied that one can sense the mood in a company, among its employees, almost immediately.

A number of years ago, in an earlier chapter of my life. I traveled the country speaking for the Center for Church Growth, an entity based in Houston.  One of the regular talks I gave was on building morale in the local church.  I gave full credit to a man named Charles Mylander from California, for the main idea in this talk.

Morale is so tangible to me.  High morale is great.  Low morale is…deadly.

I used to ask a simple question:  What were the best years for this church?

1950-1960      1960-1970        1970-1980      –Up through —     This year-forward.

There was only one good answer:  this year going forward.  The coming years will be the best years ever for this church.  Any other answer meant that the church leaders were living in the past; hoping to catch the glory years of the past.  …Deadly!

So, how do you build the kind of high morale among your people that they then find the energy, the resolve, to make the next years the very best years?  That is the challenge!

Morale is a mood issue.

You really can sense it, can’t you?  You go into a store; a restaurant; a company.  You can sense how the folks are feeling about things; what their mood is.  You sense it immediately.

And, in a flash, you think:  they don’t want to be here.


They really, really like working at this place.

So…Focus on mood; not culture.

It seems to me that the leader’s task is to work on improving the mood. And keeping the mood positive; forward thinking.

Keep morale up.  Keep the mood good; positive; hopeful.

That is all!

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