Why do leaders engage in culture?


Posted by Walking the Talk - 21 February, 2010

 Why do leaders engage in culture?
If you are reading this blog you are probably already convinced that building the right culture can add value to the organisation. 

I imagine you do not find that same passion in all of your colleagues, or your clients.  Yet you need their advocacy in order to create substantial momentum. How can you successfully influence others, and engage their hearts and minds in this process? I have found two reasons for leaders to become advocates of building the right culture.

  • Culture will help fulfill their future vision
  • Culture will remove their present pain

Each requires a different engagement strategy.  But both require the same basic ingredients:  Why, what and how.

Why culture will facilitate the vision, or alleviate the current problem.

This builds the business case.  For example, a vision of global expansion requires a culture of global collaboration.  A problem with poor customer satisfaction will be reduced by a culture where individuals take responsibility for solving problems, rather than trying to pass the buck.

What is required to change a culture.

To answer this question requires a knowledge of the elements which make up a culture business plan, covering changes to behavior, to symbols and to business systems.  Most leaders become much more comfortable, and willing to invest what it takes, when they can see a well constructed path which demonstrates that this is a hard business opportunity with a rigorous process.

How the process has to be led.

A successful culture process requires strong leadership.  A leader"s confidence builds when they can see the types of activities, and personal change, that will be needed.  Meeting peers who have taken these steps can have a powerful influence, and I recommend encouraging these wherever possible.

Those of us who advise, and those of us who follow, leaders have a responsibility to help them be successful.  Our influencing skills contribute to their success.  When your leader does not respond the way you hoped, ask yourself how you need to change to influence successfully, rather than being tempted to "blame" the leader for not getting it.  There are always ways in which we can improve


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Topics: Leadership team, Leadership, Business case for culture, Culture planning

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