I can talk at a theoretical level about a culture of accountability.
Or I can give you a small practical example from a conversation I had recently with a team leader in a retail organisation. It is the small changes in leadership behavior that send the messages that expectations are really changing. These, added together, start to change the culture.
This is what he said:
"Our outlets always submitted action plans to the senior teams, but they didn't really mean anything. Now I have to monitor them because my boss is monitoring me. I had to talk to my boss's boss about one of my outlets, which never happened before. We put plans in place with the outlet, and then we asked what they had done and then asked again until it was fixed.
Before, everything was dealt with through weekly performance numbers as a whole and the underlying problems never got looked at."
So what changed? It turns out that the boss was new, and he had strong values of accountability and people keeping their word. He just hangs in there and does not let it go. He isn't aggressive, but he walks his talk. And of all the team leaders in the organization he inherited, only one looks like they are not going to make it. The others had just got accustomed to a culture of avoidance. A culture can bring the best out of people, or the worst out of people.
Interviews are so valuable to hear the culture in action. Pulling lots of examples like this together provides the suggestions when leaders are looking for ways to visibly walk their talk. It is the small things that make the difference.
Carolyn is the CEO of Walking the Talk and author of 'Walking the Talk: Building a Culture for Success' (Random House).
Twitter @walkingourtalk or LinkedIn.