The CEO’s Role in Aligning Corporate Culture

a school of fish showing CEO’s Role in Aligning Corporate Culture

CEO’s Role in Aligning Corporate Culture is Growing
The CEO’s role in aligning corporate culture to the strategy has never been more important.  It’s hard to overstate the role of a CEO in the success of a company.  The CEO has the ultimate responsibility (as in “the buck stops here”) for business success.

But few leaders fully understand the role the CEO can play in perhaps the most important aspect of a company’s overall performance – whether the workplace culture helps or hinders the strategic agenda.

What is Corporate Culture?
We define corporate culture as the way things get done on a day-to-day basis.  It’s all about how employees think, behave and work.  This includes the known and unspoken values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors – particularly in who leaders hire, fire and promote.

In large part, organizational culture is set by its founder but company cultures evolve over time.  The CEO has the platform as the most visible leader to shape the corporate culture that is so critical to an organization’s success or failure.

A Successful Workplace Culture
A recent Harvard Business School research report described how an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same business.  And our own organizational alignment research shows that cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low growth companies.  Can there be a more powerful motivator for CEOs to get it right?

What a CEO Can Do
Understanding the importance of a CEO’s Role in aligning corporate culture, here are four moves you can make as a CEO to shape your culture in a way that fuels your strategy:

1. Create Strategic Clarity
High performing CEO’s ensure that each and every employee can articulate the overall strategy and their individual contribution to moving it forward.  High performing CEOs invest the time required to actively gather and incorporate feedback from key stakeholders until they believe the strategy sets the winning formula for success.  Strategic clarity accounts for 31% of the difference between high and low performing CEOs.  Is your strategy clear enough?

2. Define the Culture You Need to Best Execute Your Strategy
While your strategy defines the “what”, your culture defines the “how”.  Once your strategy is clear enough to act, it is time for the executive team to prioritize the critical few cultural shifts required to accelerate the strategy.  We have identified 10 research-backed dimensions that define the unique cultural attributes in terms of strategic alignment.  Effective leaders shape their organizational culture in a way that drives the business strategy forward to its full potential across these cultural dimensions:

  • Market Approach – from adopter to leader
  • Customers – from transactional to intimate
  • Loyalty – from individual to company
  • Focus – from internal to external
  • Risk Tolerance – from low to high
  • Operational Approach – from low to high process variation
  • Decision Making – from centralized to decentralized
  • Information – from fact-based to intuition-based
  • Atmosphere – from social to disciplined
  • Results – from “the how” to “the what”

3. Measure Your Current Culture
Once your strategy is clear and your desired culture has been identified, it is time to assess your current culture through the eyes of the rest of the organization.  This involves conducting an organization-wide survey to benchmark key organizational health and culture dimensions to see where you stand and how to best fill the top cultural gaps.

4. Close the Culture Gaps
Once the priorities have been identified, your final step as a CEO is to ensure that practical and implementable action plans are created, implemented, and monitored to align your culture to your strategic objectives.

The Bottom Line
Because strategy must go through culture to get implemented, high performing CEOs know the CEO’s role in aligning corporate culture and that culture is a primary lever to peak performance.  As a CEO you must chart the course for what matters most and how work should get done.  Are you doing enough as a cultural leader?

To learn more, download Do You have a High Performance Organizational Culture to Drive Your Strategy?

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We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

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Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

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Congratulations on your pro-activity in establishing this program and developing such an effective New Employee Orientation course.

Farhat Ali
President and Chief Executive Office

Fujitsu

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

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Hyperion

The LSA Global team was very receptive and flexible to our needs every step of the way. Their staff and facilitator demonstrated attention to detail, responsiveness, and professional courtesy. The participants were thrilled with the outcome and rated the communication skills workshop and the facilitator as ‘Excellent’. I’d highly recommend working with the LSA Global team to meet your professional development needs.

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FRDP Leader

Intuit

We contacted LSA to help us with customized management development. LSA worked with me to identify a solution that would meet our exact needs. We decided to start at the top and ran the program for our executive team. It was such a great success that we hope to roll it out companywide. We look forward to a long-term partnership with LSA Global and their team of experts.

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Human Resources Manager

SeaTel has found our partnership with LSA Global to be very valuable and beneficial. We turned to LSA to customize a supervisory/leadership solution to meet our needs. LSA delivered a customized top quality solution. I’d recommend LSA Global to any company looking for a best-in-class training and consulting partner.

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HR Manager

LSA’s approach and ability to bring the best resources to eBay has been a great asset. They really focus on helping us succeed in any way they can and are very flexible in meeting our management and talent needs.

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Learning & Development

ebay

“We turned to LSA to help us custom design and deliver a leadership and management development curriculum to help drive performance. They have done an excellent job diagnosing the business situation, designing an approach that fits our culture, and delivering a first class solution.”

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Here’s a token of my appreciation for ALL your efforts. I’m offering my most sincere appreciation, and it extends to all the folks who made our customized management development programs possible.

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Workforce Planning Bureau

LSA helped change our entire culture around meetings, making them more effective and efficient, thus enabling us to concentrate on driving more business.

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VP of Human Resources

What a personal and professional pleasure it has been to Partner with LSA. They are truly a strategic partner with Wyse. For more than 5 years, LSA has been engaged in delivering various training and development solutions for Wyse, from custom on-site programs targeting specific core competencies, to working individually with clients to build job skills, and offering invaluable services to me and my team as we continue to build our learning programs. LSA’s representatives do more than sell a product, they offer a full service solution: they understand our business, our strategic initiatives, and the needs of our customers.

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The Managing Virtual Teams program was extremely valuable. Your consultant/ facilitator’s fundamental knowledge of Synopsys as a company provided an incredible base to build upon while tackling the complications of managing and working with globally distributed teams. My team walked away walked away with highly useful practices and tools. It was an excellent use of our time.

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Vice President, Information Technology

Our company engaged LSA to do a specialized “train the trainer” program, and the consultant’s performance outdid our exceptionally high standards for such a program. Very crucial to the success of this program was the work done upfront to discuss our needs and to interview key members of our organization so that the program specifically met our goals. Our facilitators continue to comment on the success of the program. Thanks also for the follow-up.

Frank Abbott
Chief Financial Officer

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