Take a look around, what are the accepted and expected norms within your organisation, have you taken the time to think about why your people behave the way they do?
The culture of an organisation forms over time; it is the shared beliefs, values, and assumptions held by the people within the organisation. The behaviour of an organisation’s leaders along with other factors such as the systems and processes you have in place directly influence and impact organisational culture.
As leaders we shape the way people operate, how they think and how they behave – people look to leaders to understand expectations, often they mimic the leaders who in essence create and manage culture.
Organisational culture is described as the personality of a company, as individuals we attract and retain people in our networks with similar personalities, people who support the same values and enjoy the same things that we do. Organisations are no different, they attract and retain employees who support the same values, beliefs and behaviours that are demonstrated within the company. [Regrettably, it is a minority that embraces diversity to the same extent, which will be the topic of a separate blog.]
Change is embedded when shared actions result in shared recognition and ongoing success for the organisation, others will then continue to demonstrate these and over time, they will become the accepted norms, hence changing the culture of an organisation.
Leaders are change agents, they change the culture of an organisation, and the shadow leaders cast over an organisation becomes the culture.
Humans are naturally curious, we will explore, observe, and try new things – in particular, we will look to the leaders and imitate; leaders behaviors and actions have made them successful so if we are seeing a consistent approach by the leader others will copy that behavior.
It has been said that the most important role a leader plays is to create and manage culture; a leaders ability to understand and work with culture is critical to the success of an organisation, in particular when the culture is dysfunctional. Leaders imposing their own assumptions, values and behaviours on people create an organisation’s culture; then we recruit against these attributes to ensure people joining the organisation are not conflicted by the expectations of the organisation.
However, if that culture is to change then a change in leadership is required, the ability to change the culture of an organisation takes time and this becomes the ultimate challenge. This is one of the very challenges I am facing as a new CEO to a company with a 75-year history of being passive defensive.
Leaders change and create culture, managers work within the culture. Leadership isn’t role dependent nor are leaders created by a title, leaders are created by their capability and behavior – the more senior the role you have the more you are looked to for setting the expectations of an organisation. Therefore, what is the shadow you are casting and is that the culture you want embedded into your organisation?