How to Lead the Way to Your Aspired Culture

How to Lead the Way to Your Aspired Culture
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The Right Aspired Culture
There is no single right culture.  The culture you as a leader choose to shape and cultivate should depend on what behaviors align best with your people and business strategies within your unique environment.  Do you know what that ideal culture looks like?

Strategy Comes First
Our organizational alignment research found that strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue growth, profitability, customer loyalty, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.  And that without a clear strategy, investments in culture and talent are severely diluted.

The most effective leaders start by creating a strategy that outlines clear and compelling choices about where to play and what actions to take.  Done right and executed properly, a successful strategic plan sets a company up to perform beyond just the sum of its parts.  Once your strategy is clear enough to act, it is time to understand, shape, and align your corporate culture to best drive your strategic priorities forward.

Culture Follows Strategy
For many fast growing and changing companies, the greatest obstacles to success are not about crafting a winning strategy.  Even companies that have a solid strategic plan may not be firing on all cylinders.  They are not performing at their peak.  Why?

Often because their leaders have not created the healthy, high performance, and aligned culture required to get sustainable results now or in the future.  Their culture, how things truly get done in an organization, needs to be fully aligned with their strategic ambitions.

The Key to Shaping Culture
Know that corporate culture is often set by the leadership.  How leaders behave drives the key cultural norms for the rest of the organization.  With culture, it’s a matter of do-as-I-do, not do-as-I-say.

An Example
Let’s say that you want to improve the way meetings are conducted at your company.  You have decided that many meetings are a waste of time: they don’t start or end on time, participation is not strategic, and the process and follow-through is haphazard, etc.  You need to step up.

Make your expectations clear about how meetings should be run and then show your employees that you mean business by modeling the behaviors you want to see them adopt.  Schedule a meeting and pre-publish the timing and the agenda.  Invite only those who need to be there and fill others in with a report on what transpired.  Stick to the agenda.  Solicit ideas and opinions from all. At the conclusion, put together a list of actions to be taken, who is responsible and when due.  Set the pattern and follow up to see that employees are changing their behaviors in the way you have modeled.

The Bottom Line
Organizational cultures progress and change over time regardless of their strength.  But how leaders define and shape their culture is critical to the success or failure of their strategies.  Are you behaving as a leader in a way that is consistent with the culture you want?

To learn more about how to design your aspired culture, download The 3 Levels of a High Performance Culture that You Must Get Right

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