Culture and Leadership

Culture and Leadership

We have spent several of the latest discussions talking about Transformational Leadership and many of the points on what makes a good leader.  One of the things that has a significant impact on the ability to lead in any group of people is the group’s culture.  Culture is the underlying belief system and includes the values and behaviours of the group.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, the culture within an organisation can vary depending on the individual leaders and their influence, either positively or negatively.  Culture is very much the unspoken tenets in the group and truly become obvious when the group is placed under pressure.

I have been engaged within businesses where the verbalised “values” did not represent or align with the hidden values, and the hidden values always prevailed. A common one is “safety is our #1 priority”, yet other pressures all too easily push that out because the “leader/manager” says something different, and the priorities change.   The culture in any organisation can be seen by what standards or behaviours are accepted.  Those in positions of influence drive the culture; what they walk past becomes the accepted norm.  Many corporate programs implemented to address culture have failed because of influencers having a different agenda or undermining the process with their own behaviours.

Society shows us a similar premise within multi-cultural areas, where the individual cultural groups tend to gravitate to their own niche, standing up for their own beliefs to the detriment of the broader social group, with conflict and opposition.  The agendas of the individual groups tend to focus on what is important for them, and we find the bigger the individual group the stronger the influence due to peer pressure or other activity.

For a business to be successful, a common and embedded set of beliefs has to be developed to create the culture, with a common language and set of values.  The behaviour of the leaders reflects these beliefs and values in everything they do because the overarching purpose takes precedent over any individual or sub-groups agendas or ideas.   A review of successful and long-standing businesses shows they have their own unique and thriving culture that is consistent through the business.  The culture may change as leadership or circumstances change, however a common culture prevails.  Does the culture in your team reflect that of the broader enterprise?  Is there a common and positive culture in the business?  Take steps today to make your business flourish.