The Culture of Belonging
Lorne Rubis, co-founder of Belongify and April’s podcast guest, has much to say on the subject of belonging and culture. In the last blog post I explored some of his work and ideas around belonging. Now, as I continue learning about his current work around the 10 elements of extraordinary cultures, I wanted to present more of his thoughts on workplace culture.
Tell us about what led to your passion for transforming organizational cultures?
Lorne explains how based on his 40-year career, he looked back on connecting the dots on all he had learned about organizational cultures. He combined this experience with advanced social research to pinpoint the ingredients of extraordinary cultures. “What became clear is that every organization has a culture that is moving one way or another – either progressing to something better or slipping back to something less, or, at its worst, becoming toxic.”
Lorne has taken his vast wisdom to teach classes at Harvard on the ten ingredients of building a thriving culture, attended by people around the world. He built and applies, along with Debbie Blakeman of Younitive Leadership, the ten integrated cultural elements. These have become a foundation for having a conversation to bring leadership into alignment and create the conditions for advancing extraordinary cultures.
“What became clear is that every organization has a culture that is moving one way or another – either progressing to something better or slipping back to something less, or, at its worst, becoming toxic.” – Lorne Rubis
Over the course of your career, how have you see workplaces fail and succeed when it comes to creating cultures where people thrive?
Lorne Rubis describes how Boeing 737 MAX was a cultural failure. In cases like this, people become confused about their purpose, and are fearful about speaking out. When people are not empowered to do the right thing, we can have catastrophic cultural failures. Organizations that are great places to work create more value in many ways, including financial success. Lorne believes that when an organization’s Glass Door scores fall below the average of 3.2 (or are in the 2s) they are struggling culturally, and bad things can happen (e.g., the example of the crash of WeWork, a series worth watching). Organizations whose cultures are struggling will start to lose their top notch people.
What does “work-life wellness” look like for you personally?
I use a term called “personal equity”. In this integrated world we need to ask ourselves:
- Are we growing emotionally?
- Are we developing spiritually?
- Are we advancing experientially?
- Are we staying well physically and mentally?
- Are we thriving financially?
Lorne describes how these dimensions are all integrated. We each need to think about our personal game plan. According to Lorne, we need to: Think big, start small, and act now! Know that you won’t do it perfectly, but it’s important to start now. Personal equity means integrating and balancing the elements of your life as best as you can. If any of these is suffering, we feel off balance. We have to continue being self-aware and be intentional about each one of these areas in an integrated way.
“Think big, start small, act now! Know that you won’t do it perfectly, but it’s important to start now. Integrating and balancing the elements of your life as best as you can. If any of these is suffering, we feel off balance.“ – Lorne Rubis
What has been your greatest challenge when it comes to your own work-life wellness, and how have you worked at overcoming this challenge?
“My work and life are totally integrated. My work is my hobby and my hobby is my work. My heart rate drops 10 beats when I’m writing – I’m in my flow. My body will tell me when I’ve overplayed it. I’ve had a few wake-up calls. It’s a never-ending battle around doing it.
When I make poor decisions (i.e., working too much), it’s because my ego is driving me. I’m listening to that little ego chirping away on my shoulder saying: “you haven’t done enough; it’s not good enough” or I’m seeking recognition and doing things for the wrong reasons. That’s when I get lost.”
About Lorne Rubis:
Currently the Co-Founder of Belongify.com, Lorne Rubis is fully immersed in the world of culture and leadership, stating his life’s purpose is “all about advancing people and organizations”. Whether leading, facilitating, consulting, teaching, speaking, writing, or podcasting, Lorne utilizes 40 plus years of experience in leading personal and cultural transformation to deliver actionable insights every day. He and his wife Kathleen (his high school prom date) divide their time between residences in Alberta, British Columbia, and Washington, with an everyday mission to remotely connect with their three adult children and four grandkids who live in the U.S. and UK. They all gather whenever they can at the Rubis family vineyard in Naramata, BC.
Lorne is a published author (The Character Triangle) and was awarded the 2018 Ivey School of Business/HRD Magazine Canadian Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the Human Resource community and advancing the workplace in Canada. In 2020 the HRD Magazine included Lorne in their Global 100 list of top HR Leaders. Lorne was appointed to the FortisAlberta Board of Directors in February 2019. He is a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors and an invited mentor at The Unreasonable Group. Lorne has also been recognized in the World’s Top 30 Culture Professionals for 2021 and 2022.