How Leaders Maximize Corporate Culture

How Leaders Maximize Corporate Culture
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Do Your Leaders Maximize Corporate Culture to Rally Their Teams?
When we assess organizational culture, the majority of business and HR leaders tell us that their corporate culture is not where it needs to be in order to optimize employee engagement or to drive business performance.  That is a problem.

Organizational culture matters — a lot. Our organizational alignment research found that workplace culture accounts for 40% of the difference between high and low performing companies. Research by Deloitte found that 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a clear company culture is vital to a business’ success.

What Drives Employee Behavior
The behavior of employees is driven by what leaders expect, tolerate, reward, hold accountable, and model.  Employees closely observe their leaders for cues on how to behave and for what’s important in the context of their work environment. Most leaders today understand this and try hard to communicate the importance of culture. But in far too many companies, the work of leaders stops there.

While change communication is an important component of any change management plan, communication alone is not enough to maintain or change corporate culture.  If your corporate culture needs even a small adjustment, you need more than your leadership’s lip service to the behaviors required to live your desired corporate culture.

For true impact as a leader, you must not only say what needs to be done, you must also visibly and consistently act in ways that support and encourage the desired corporate culture.  That includes ensuring that all business processes, practices, and systems align with the culture you seek. That’s how leaders maximize corporate culture for their people and their business.

How Leaders Maximize Corporate Culture
Sadly, most employees say that less than one-third of leaders behave in ways that align with the desired culture.  Even fewer believe that their business practices and systems enable the culture they profess to be living.

What gives?

It seems there is a serious disconnect between the communication of culture and its actual practice in employees’ day-to-day work.  If you want to help leaders maximize corporate culture:

  1. Define and Communicate
    Start by assessing your current organizational culture so that you know where things stand.  Then define and communicate the desired culture required to meet your people and business goals.  Keep things simple and focused on what matters most.

    Is your desired culture clear enough and understood enough?
  2. Role Model
    Once the desired culture is defined and communicated throughout the organization, your next step is to ensure that both formal and informal leaders model the new ways of thinking, behaving, and working.

    Do your leaders walk the talk?
  3. Manage Business Processes and Practices
    While what leaders say and do certainly helps point employees in the right direction, surprising research by Gartner uncovered that the combined impact on the workforce is only 6% — with what leaders say about culture only having a 1% impact on employees.  It turns out that the greatest impact (three times as much as what leaders do and say combined) on aligning employees with your desired culture relates to the processes, budgets, policies, and organizational structures that leaders set up to run the business.

    Have your leaders operationalized the desired culture to help create higher performance?

The Bottom Line
If you and your leaders want to align your people to the desired cultural and team norms, communicate, model, and operationalize how you want them to think, behave, and work.  If you do not carry through your words and behaviors into actual meaningful business structures, you will only be having a minimal impact on your workforce.

To learn more about living your desired corporate culture, download the 3 Levels of Culture High Performing Leaders Get Right

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