Your Leadership is Responsible for Your Culture

There are two ways to read that headline, and both are correct.

The leader’s behaviour creates, or tolerates or influences the culture.

The leader has a primary responsibility for setting or adjusting the culture.

You can walk into a business and spend about an hour working and conversing with the people and be able to assess the quality of the leadership.

I have helped over 400 leaders in over 100 companies over 20 years and the evidence is consistent.

Here are some observations I’ve experienced:

  1. When HR is assigned the task of reforming the culture, it will fail. That task belongs with the senior leadership team who must be fully aligned in all respects pertaining to the values, the vision and the mission, and their responsibility for the culture.
  2. Culture surveys are not enough to assess the culture. It requires observation and effective discussion as well.
  3. Unless the leaders develop themselves, the culture won’t develop.
  4. The culture is the greatest determinant of the organisation’s success.
  5. The culture is never set in concrete and morphs according to the quality of leadership at the time.
  6. Leaders can create rapid improvement in culture if they have the courage to use the techniques that are available, so long as they remember this version of Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you want to see in others”.
  7. The expectations from mergers, acquisitions and departmental re-organisation have a 70% failure rate, because leaders don’t know how to factor in the cultural needs.
  8. The key to effective leadership influence on culture is the deployment of these specific skills:
    1. Leadership presence and communication that inspires.
    2. Consistent courage, care and competence – which earns trust.
    3. A persistent coaching approach by leaders.
    4. Ability to effectively deal with the unacceptable and keep/grow trust and respect.

What are your thoughts?

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