Embrace mantras to send clear messages and build culture

Nov 02, 2023

What do the sayings in your workplace say about your culture?


As leaders we are constantly seeking ways to communicate our vision, values, and priorities to our teams. One effective and often overlooked method is through the use of mantras. A well-crafted mantra can serve as a powerful tool to build a strong team culture and ensure that everyone understands what truly matters.

What Is a Mantra, Anyway?

Mantras are catch phrases or maxims that encapsulate your core values, beliefs, and objectives. These short, punchy but memorable statements serve as guiding principles, reminding everyone of what you stand for and where you are headed. In essence, a mantra is a compass for your culture.


Mantras Create a Common Language

I cannot tell you the number of teams I work with that can’t remember their company values.  One of the greatest challenges in leadership is ensuring that everyone is on the same page. Mantras provide a common language for the team and a consistent reminder about what is important. When team members can easily recite a mantra, it becomes a part of their everyday normal, influencing their behavior and decision-making.


For example, Apples mantra, "think different," sends a clear message we are not like everyone else which is a fundamental part of their culture.  It encourages employees to challenge the status quo and be innovative. This simple phrase reflects how we do things around here.

Focusing on What Truly Matters

Where there can be constant distractions and shifting priorities, mantras serve as anchors, keeping what is most important front of mind. When leaders use mantras effectively, they emphasise the importance of not just what you want to do, but how you want to do it. 


Crafting Effective Mantras

Creating an effective mantra is both an art and a science. It should be:


Concise: Keep it short and easy to remember,

Memorable: Make it catchy so it sticks,

Relevant: Ensure it aligns with your company's values and goals,

Actionable: The mantra should inspire action and behavior,

Inclusive: Encourage all team members to embrace it.

Communicating and Reinforcing

Once you've crafted a mantra, it's essential to consistently communicate and reinforce it. Incorporate the mantra into your meetings and day-to-day conversations. Encourage your team to share stories that demonstrate the meaning of the mantra and how it is being lived in their work.


Check in on the mantras you have now

If you have mantras that are already ingrained, ask are they still working for you?  Or are they sending a message that is subconsciously creating a barrier to people engaging in desired behaviours.  Catch phrases that have been adopted by work groups can end up undermining what you are trying to achieve now or no longer send a positive message.  If this is the case, its time to make a change.


If you're leading a team or organisation, consider crafting a mantra that captures your core values and objectives, and watch how you people adopt it in their day-to-day language and behaviours.  Mantras are a great way to support you on a culture transformation journey and can be used to highlight a behaviour you want to move towards or will support your ideal future state.

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