Culture and Leadership is Top-Down

Visual Courtesy:
Visual Courtesy:

An organisation’s success in its endeavors is, inextricably, tied to the culture that the organisation has.  Culture that is defined by the people, the processes of the organisation and the behaviour that the leaders, of the organisation, display on the job.

  • People—people are diverse and when they come into an organisation they bring, along with their technical competencies and skills, their individual biases in terms of team leadership, team-work and clarity in communication.
  • Processes—processes that are in place in an organisation impact how the staff carry out their activities. Either the processes aid daily works functioning or they hinder and as a result be the source of a tremendous stress.
  • Business Purpose—the reason why the organisation exists and what is it they need to do to ensure the organisation is sustainable.

So when we have a diverse group of people with a load of processes in place and specific leadership styles in play, a cultural make up forms, which is what the organisation operates on.

The importance of what leaders display, as their behaviour, cannot be understated. What the leaders, knowingly or unknowingly, display sets the behavioral indicators for staff who then emulate the same.

This has serious implications on the day-to-day functioning of an organisation, on the emotional (and physical health) of the employee, and finally on the organisation’s brand image and reputation.

The key lever here that can be pulled is leadership. Depending on the industry sector and the organisations position within that sector and its mission, leadership becomes the only critical element that will either build or destroy the organisation.

As a leader tasked with turning around organisation culture, it becomes absolutely critical to:

  • Understand the business you are in and thus focus on the critical aspects of housekeeping in order to get the organisation to battle-worthy status
  • Individually, work with the teams, in those critical areas to ensure achievement
  • Identify champions and recognise and reward them ethically and socially
  • Groom a second line of decision makers to provide succession planning

Whilst this is neither an exhaustive list nor is it a fail-safe list, these four leadership ‘must-do’s’ is based on my interactions, over my career, with CEO’s and managing directors of various types of organisations.  Organisations who have been successful in changing their culture because their leaders did these four steps.