Blog entry by Alan Chapman
Cultural Development and Leaders
The culture in an organisation is a non-tangible “on-going experience” that impacts individuals and the feeling of those who engage it or don’t. The best and most commonly used way to describe it is “The way things are done around here”.
What is the impact of cultural development, in terms of leadership styles and approaches? One evident piece is the leadership style of any leader in an organisation needs to compliment a developed culture and not simply the formed one. Which is often a challenge for internally promoted leaders, as they got there doing what was acceptable within the formed culture. In fact, often the formed culture is not only what they are used to but what works best for them!
The leadership needs to engage those on the ground in a way that feels to the employees, that the leaders are living and leading from the values of the organisation and towards the same vision and mission as they are been asked to.
When leaders not only speak but behave in alignment, its sets president and role model’s ideal behaviour. Which naturally brings high achievers, growth orientated and top performers along, which helps naturally spread the ideal behaviours.
A leader who tells people take a break but doesn’t themselves is really saying “take a break but I don’t have time for one, which means if you want to be respected and valued here then taking breaks are not how you do it”
It is always important for a leader to consider what they are saying, doing and feeling throughout the day. As we can say and do the right thing in terms of cultural development while feeling indifferent, and guess which one people unconsciously pick up on? Feelings.
For a culture to develop and grow alongside profits, workstreams and best practices it requires as much care and attention as other elements of organisations processes. However, as it is intangible, it is more effective to engage it through practice, than to train it in.
As a leader, can you take your current organisations values, vision and mission and asses how effectively these given your management style, design making process and actions?
Although leadership is important in culture it is not the deciding factor, it is an important factor but not the deciding one. The people are.
How many of us have seen people behave drastically different when a manager is around and even play up to the manager and the minute they are gone, default to a less helpful position?
Leadership needs to foster employees in a way that they respect each other and “the way you want people do things around here”. Often, we have values and mission statements which speak to aspirations but maintain through comfort practices that dilute them.
For instances, compassion as a value in a setting where winning is promoted will naturally dilute the ideal of compassion for the rewarded reality of winning.
The employees are a deciding factor, if not the ultimate factor. However how they are engaged is and what is rewarded consciously or unconsciously will set the pathway.
That is the role of leaders and managers in terms of cultural development, to create pathways with clear steps that are measurable for employees to easily engage. The easier it is to engage the desired culture, the easier it is to get buy in from employees.
It is vital to remember that culture isn’t about profit over people, or even people over profit, it is about creating a balance so that a suitable and as often as possible hassle-free process allows people to do their jobs well (make profits) and in turn they are rewarded (pay, recognition, enjoyable work place etc.)
When we neglect culture within our organisation because of fear or simply lack of urgency, we are creating a pathway that will require a crisis for cultural development. At which point we usually have two issues arising, one the crisis we have created through a lack of pro-actively developing a cultural pathway and secondly the need to create a pro-active pathway that engages employees in desired actions, behaviours and relationships.
It is easier to consider cultural development now, in all planning stages than to avoid it and spend years and lots of money on remedying it. It is ever leader’s responsibility to consider the cultural they are paving the way for.