We have seen so many organizational culture failures that spiraled down in large part due to the leader’s approach and style. Some recent large company examples of poor cultures due to leadership include Wells Fargo, Uber, Volkswagen and one of the lowest-rated companies on Glassdoor – Union Pacific. Most of us have personal experience of leaders negatively impacting culture, at times affecting the whole organization and sometimes just one department. Every leader, no matter their level, impacts culture and is in the culture business.
What can leaders at any level do to positively impact the culture? Here are 5 tips that will help to effectively lead and manage company culture:
1. Ensure there is culture clarity
Only when there is a conscious culture, a culture that defines its intention through the vision, mission, values and behaviors, can leaders successfully navigate toward the desired culture. Too often, a lack of consistency creates an environment of divergent paths. For example, if the values are defined without behaviors, leaders are left to their own devices to determine what successful behaviors are needed.
What does it mean to “Get it done”? Does it mean to complete the task at all costs or does it mean that respectful behavior is required? Leaders should be aware that individual interpretation leads to diverse and sometimes contradictory results.
2. Build in culture feedback mechanisms
Once a conscious culture is clearly defined and articulated, regular feedback on the effectiveness of the intentional culture is required. Without ensuring there is a customized culture feedback system designed to understand the depth of your unique culture, the organization is like a boat without a rudder. You will move but likely not in the intended direction. Leaders need to include culture feedback mechanisms that ensure all voices are included and have the opportunity to influence the culture direction.
3. Receive open and confidential feedback on your intended and unintended impact
Similar to gaining regular feedback on the efficacy of the culture, leaders need to understand how they are perceived. Both intentional and unintentional behaviors impact leadership results. The best way to deeply understand how leadership is perceived is to ask a neutral third-party, like an executive coach. The third-party should be asked to conduct an interview and summarize themes from the meeting.
In our coaching practice, we often include 360 interviews and personality assessments for leaders who desire to understand their strengths and development opportunities. Only after knowing their leadership brand can leaders make modifications to their style. This feedback and executive coaching allows the leader to learn new ways of creating success.
4. Effectively manage the staff through recognition and feedback
It is not only critical for the leader to receive feedback and grow through it, feedback must effectively be delivered to his/her staff. For some leaders, it is easier to focus on what is going wrong and give less attention to the daily successes. All leaders can challenge themselves to recognize an achievement every day. Dedicate time to notice all the great work that is going on and recognize it for continued success.
Similarly, delivering constructive valuable feedback is also key for effective leadership. Some leaders are not skilled in having crucial conversations. It is one of the top leadership coaching topics we find clients want to improve. Seek a coach or partner to help develop skills that are not natural today.
5. Develop your own unique conscious leadership statement
The most effective leaders are able to articulate the essence of who they are as a leader. This description is sometimes referred to as their guiding way of authentically leading, or their conscious leadership statement.
Defining a conscious leadership statement becomes valuable when you can reflect on and determine your uniqueness and passion. Once formed, articulating it to others encourages further development toward that path. Imagine how you would want to be described in a conference room when senior leaders are discussing if you are ready to increase your leadership role. Take the steps necessary to become that conscious leader.
Building a conscious culture and developing yourself as a conscious leader is more like turning a large ship than a speed boat. Start today on the journey to developing yourself and your organization. Make a decision that your growth is as critical as developing those you work with.
Conscious Culture Group has a list of coaches that will help you accelerate your influence and leadership. We customize coaching packages to meet the client’s needs. Please let us know if you want a complimentary 30 minute “good fit” conversation by reaching out to me at Russ@ConsciousCultureGroup.com
Russ Elliot is the founder, chief consultant and executive coach of the Conscious Culture Group®, a culture consulting and executive coaching company focused on creating unique intentional cultures that are great places to work. The Conscious Culture Group® builds a bridge between the leadership’s vision and the employee experience through customized solutions. Russ serves as a consultant, executive coach, educator, trainer and speaker.
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