Are You Living Your Culture?
For a desired organizational culture to be realized, every member of the team must demonstrate the desired culture daily - starting with leadership.
In fact, if leadership is not a living example of the organization's culture in action, the chances of that culture existing anywhere other than on a piece of paper is pretty slim.
So, what can you, as a leader, do to ensure the culture you want is the culture you get?
Here are two culture-supporting leadership to get you started:
Tip #1: Talk Behavior Over Traits
If we told you that leaders in a certain organization are honest, you know exactly what we mean, right?
Or do you?
The problem with discussing leadership in terms of character traits is that one person's interpretation of what any given trait looks like can be very different from another's.
Having personal discussions with your key leaders during which you describe what behaviors you expect, rather than what traits you expect, leaves no room for error.
It also sends an important message. Specifically, that you expect your leaders to actually live these behaviors, not simply possess the ability to do so.
Also, by emphasizing behavior over character traits, you make it easier for your leaders to fill any gaps. They simply need to act differently - a task that can feel far less complicated and far more tangible than "changing your character."
Tip #2: Practice Authenticity for Greater Alignment
As you can see from the first tip, maintaining a desired organizational culture requires alignment between the stated culture (the culture on paper) and the actions that happen within it (the actual culture), especially the actions of the leaders.
But how can we as leaders ensure we represent the organizational culture and still stay to true to ourselves?
The answer is authentic leadership.
Z. Colette Edwards, M.D., and CEO of Insight MD recently wrote about six steps leaders can take to "get real." They are:
- Understand your why.
- Increase self-awareness and sense of self-determination.
- Limit your chances of having regrets.
- Walk your talk.
- Face your fears and be open to new paths.
- Express your true feelings.
Organizational culture is one of the most under-recognized sources of performance - and one of the most accessible assets you can tap to make a difference in results. The two tips above are only a piece of the puzzle. Taking the time to assess current culture and determine areas for change is one of the most important actions any leader can take in support of future success.