The people we surround ourselves with have a big influence on how we think and behave, as well as how we are perceived.  That’s why parents care that their kids are not running with the “wrong crowd”.

The same holds true for the people you choose to work with and, most importantly, to work for or follow.  To use a laundry analogy, bosses and leaders are not colorfast – their ethos rubs off on the people in their teams, the people who follow them.  And it can happen subtly, without you even knowing it.  It’s called culture – that “something in the air or water”.

I recently saw such a shift in the parents from our kids’ arch rival high school, a group we’ve met 3-4 times a year at games and tournaments over the last six years.

  • When Susan was the Team Mom, the parent group came across as vocal, aggressive and highly competitive, which is pretty much how she would describe herself.  Nice enough on an individual basis, but quite a force as a group.
  • Now, with Dave as Team Mom (yes, that’s what they call him), the whole atmosphere has relaxed and these parents appear “kinder and gentler” as a group.  Dave, by the way, is happily retired and quite easy-going.

With one change of leadership, the culture has shifted perceptibly.  And that’s just with the informal parents group of a high school.  Imagine what happens with more official organizations.

Whether it’s the volunteer parent organization or your career, choose your leaders and bosses carefully.  They are likely to shape the kind of leader and person you become, consciously or subconsciously.

And if you are in a position of leadership, think about what aspects you want to rub off on your team, and create the kind of culture you would be proud to join.

Since few of us are immune to adopting the colors of the leaders and people around us, it’s best to choose consciously and choose well.