Recognising Cultural Barriers to Professional Leadership Development

Leadership development programs are crucial for nurturing and enhancing the skills and capabilities of professionals in today’s dynamic and competitive business landscape. However, many of these programs fail to take into account the influence of a company’s culture and organisational context, as well as the role of senior leaders in shaping that context. This oversight can undermine the effectiveness of leadership development efforts. In this article, we will explore four strategies that Intuit, a leading tech company, has employed to ensure its culture and leadership training reinforce each other, creating a conducive environment for positive leader growth. 

Understanding the Importance of Culture and Organisational Context 

Culture and organisational context play a pivotal role in shaping the behaviour, mindset, and decision-making processes of individuals within a company. When leaders and leadership development practitioners fail to acknowledge the critical role of these factors, they oversimplify the complexities of leadership development. Recognizing the influence of culture and organisational context is the first step towards creating a successful leadership development program. 

Strategy 1: Aligning Leadership Development with Company Values 

Intuit has recognized the significance of aligning leadership development with its core values. By incorporating the company’s values into the training curriculum, leaders are equipped with the necessary skills and mindset to navigate the cultural landscape effectively. This alignment ensures that leaders can make decisions that are in line with the company’s mission, vision, and values, fostering a cohesive and purpose-driven organisational culture. 

Strategy 2: Engaging Senior Leaders in the Development Process 

The involvement of senior leaders in the leadership development process is crucial for creating a culture that supports professional growth. Intuit actively engages its senior leaders in shaping the context within which leadership development occurs. By involving senior leaders in the design and delivery of training programs, Intuit ensures that leadership development aligns with the company’s strategic goals and cultural values. This involvement also enables senior leaders to lead by example and reinforce the importance of continuous learning and development. 

Strategy 3: Creating Opportunities for Cross-Functional Collaboration 

Intuit recognizes that effective leadership often requires collaboration and a willingness to work across organisational boundaries. To foster this behaviour, Intuit provides opportunities for leaders to engage in cross-functional projects and initiatives. By encouraging collaboration and breaking down silos, Intuit promotes a culture of openness, innovation, and knowledge sharing. This approach enables leaders to develop a holistic understanding of the organisation and enhances their ability to drive cross-functional initiatives. 

Strategy 4: Providing Ongoing Support and Feedback 

Leadership development is not a one-time event but a continuous journey. Intuit understands the importance of providing ongoing support and feedback to leaders throughout their development process. This support includes coaching, mentoring, and regular feedback sessions. By offering continuous support, Intuit ensures that leaders have the necessary resources and guidance to navigate the challenges of their roles effectively. This approach also fosters a culture of learning, growth, and accountability. 


Leadership development programs must recognize and address the influence of culture and organisational context to ensure their effectiveness. Intuit’s strategies provide valuable insights into how organisations can create a culture that reinforces positive leader growth. By aligning leadership development with company values, engaging senior leaders, promoting cross-functional collaboration, and providing ongoing support, organisations can overcome cultural barriers and create an environment conducive to professional leadership development. 

Remember, effective leadership development goes beyond training programs and encompasses the entire organisational ecosystem. By recognizing the critical role of culture and senior leaders in shaping that culture, organisations can strengthen their leadership development efforts and cultivate a professional workforce capable of driving success in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape.

Image Source: FreeImages‍ | Article adapted from HBR