Leadership and Culture

Leader

Leadership eats culture. Culture does indeed eat strategy. However, leadership consumes culture, and no one is better equipped to undermine an organization’s efforts than individuals in leadership positions. According to Dan Denison, “it is tremendously alluring to sit at the top of a great worldwide firm and consider your strategic options.” The different impressions of culture depending on level, region/location, and function are just a few of the many insights Denison frequently finds when conducting our culture work. An organization’s lack of alignment becomes immediately apparent. 

Leaders are in charge of Culture

Considerations such as having high expectations of other people and adopting a victim attitude can result from seeing culture as another person’s problem. As has already been mentioned, leaders are in a unique position to have a substantial impact on how work is done in a company. However, one individual does not form a culture. A culture evolves from the collective behaviour and practices of a group. However, priorities are set by leaders, who also decide where staff concentrate their efforts. They can assist staff members in understanding the priorities. Each of these decisions can and often is influenced by leaders, who also respond to both successful and unsuccessful initiatives. 

How do leaders understand culture? 

A leader can damage a culture in a variety of ways. Employees may wonder how serious a strategy is if you discuss it with scepticism. If there is disrespect of the consumer, before you realise it, the customer will just be seen as a bother. Berate the worker who raises fresh concepts and rejects the status quo and the company will soon be mired in mediocrity. 

Leadership with a Cultural Perspective 

In our work with numerous companies, we have witnessed the impact good leaders can create. This is often directly related to our acclaimed Leadership Development workshops and customised skills sessions that help leaders to sharpen their effectiveness. We have also observed the negative and toxicity that can prevail flowing directly from ineffective and vapid leadership. It is vital that leaders of any business take the time to assess and address culture as a matter of priority.  

Focus on Culture as a Leadership Matter 

If managing and understanding your organization’s culture is a top priority, Denison suggests posing the following inquiries to yourself for starters: 

  1. “How clear is our current culture? Do we know if our culture is a business driver or a barrier to performance?” 
  2. “Do we have established values and leadership principles?” 
  3. “Are people held accountable for behaving in accordance with those values and principles?” 
  4. “Is culture understanding and management an explicit expectation for leaders and managers?” 
  5. “How do leaders understand the impact they are having in the organization and, specifically, how well they are articulating, modelling and reinforcing the desired culture?” 

At CPC, accurate diagnosis is vital in our performance consulting process. Our powerful assessment tools expose and highlight critical performance areas. CPC is an avid and expert user of the DOCS (Denison Organisational Culture Survey) tool to facilitate accurate diagnosis of critical issues and recommend corrective action.  

We have performed this work with several clients with great success. It is clear that DOCS-based data-driven change initiatives are far more successful when culture is addressed at the beginning. 

“A leader who sows doubt, ambiguity, and dread will spread those mindsets like a virus”. If left unchecked, the leader will devour not only the strategy but also the culture. Culture concerns the group as a whole, and everybody is fully responsible for how they completing the work or not.

Adapted from: Denison Consulting | Leadership Eats Culture | Bryan Adkins