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The Language of Culture/the culture of language




Language is more than vocabulary and grammar. As an ex-pat I learned very quickly that no matter how well you speak a foreign language, unless you are deeply immersed in a culture you will never speak like a native.


Just as culture influences language, language can influence culture, at least in the organisational sense.


In his book The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle gives an example from the New York restaurant world for language that fosters culture of proficiency, and from the animation world (Pixar and Disney studios) for language that fosters culture of creativity.


Ironically, the term “language” here does not mean the dictionary definition of the word. It is more about words, sentences, and expressions, what they mean internally, and how they affect behaviour and emotions.


Language can – and does – spring-up spontaneously. This may sound a bit odd, but if you think about it, you will probably find some examples that have taken root in your organisation as a result of the prevailing culture.


And since, as Peter Drucker is quoted to have said culture eats strategy for breakfast, as a leader it is highly effective to intentionally drive the creation of a language that will foster the culture you prefer.


What language is spoken in your organisation?

 

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