Leaders have a pivotal impact on the initiation and sustainability of Values Based Organizational Culture. They have a large say as they create the environment, model the behaviours, and decide on the related strategies, processes, procedures, and systems. Therefore, it is important to explore how leaders impact organizational culture and how they can support the shift towards the desired organizational culture.
Here are some thoughts to consider:
- A leader is somebody who others willingly follow. To make change, it is important to establish that type of leadership with your team. People more willingly follow when they believe that the leader is honest, forward-looking, competent, and inspiring (Kouzes & Posner). They see the leader as credible and trustworthy. Without credibility and trust, initiatives have little chance to succeed.
- In addition, the beliefs, values, and actions of the founder or CEO are the biggest determinants of how the culture will evolve (Schein). The underlying technology and the actual experiences of the organization are also important influences. So, while leaders have a profound impact, the interaction of other team members and aspects of the organization must also be considered.
- Leaders impact culture through primary ‘culture embedding’ mechanisms, such as:
- role modeling
- what they pay attention to, measure, and resource
- how they react to crises; and who they select, promote and reward within the organization
- organizational design and structure
- the stories, legends and myths they promulgate
- rites and rituals
- the layout of the physical space
To ensure successful organizational culture change:
- Leaders must ensure that the formal aspects of the organization are aligned with the desired change in behaviours. These behaviours, then, must be evaluated through the use by leaders of key metrics to evaluate the adoption of the behaviours and their impact on the identified goal (Hull). This is the tangible measurement that organizations tend to accept.
- Leaders must build their own Personal Mastery, developing a more systemic worldview, learning how to reflect on tacit assumptions, expressing one’s vision and listening to others’ visions, and inquiring into different people’s view of current reality (Senge). This requires a full awareness and acceptance of self; an unbiased processing of self-relevant information; action consistent with the true self; and a relational orientation that values openness and truth in close personal relationships” (Kernis; Jackson & Parry). Personal Mastery supports authentic leadership which is required for successful organizational culture change.
Leaders set the stage. To make a positive impact, they need to be clear on who they are, walk their talk, realize what impact their actions and decisions have, and set the stage for success by building trust and credibility, continuing to develop self-awareness and awareness of the needs and values of others, working towards values alignment for themselves and team members, and learning, growing and leading therefrom. They must also ensure that the infrastructure supports the desired values and associated behaviours and monitor and adapt the culture. The leader’s role in organizational change is imperative.
Yours in creating lasting success,
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