LEADERSHIP CULTURE IS REALLY WHAT EATS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST
She expressed this idea back in 2011, even before she became CEO of Big Blue, when she was speaking at the Yale CEO Summit. She told the audience that culture is a defining issue that will distinguish the most successful businesses from the rest of the pack. She got it right over ten years ago. Nowadays, it seems that just about everyone understands the importance of company culture.
However, one of the challenges I find is with the term culture itself. For many senior executives I work with, it is seen as a fuzzy concept. I worked with a CEO once who referred to culture as a bowl of Jell-O, “this jiggly thing that you can’t quite grasp.” I remember laughing when he said that. However, the comment pointed out the problem we have with culture – everyone knows they need a strong one, but few know what it is or how to build it. I have found the way forward is to talk about leadership culture instead. In fact, to play off Peter Drucker’s famous phrase, I believe that leadership culture is really what eats strategy for breakfast.
WHY IT MATTERS:
LEADERS ARE WHO CREATE CULTURE
The reason is that ultimately, it is leaders who create culture in the way they behave, what they value and the tone they set for employees. Senior executives can wrap their heads around their company’s leadership culture, and many see it as a priority. For example, we surveyed over 2,000 global senior executives and found that 96 percent believe that having a strong leadership culture is critical. That’s the good news. The bad news is only 33 percent are confident that their leadership culture is strong enough to drive the success of the organization. That, unfortunately, makes for a significant leadership accountability gap.
IT IS NEAR IMPOSSIBLE FOR ORGANIZATIONS TO BE SUCCESSFUL WHEN THEY HAVE A SIGNIFICANT LEADERSHIP ACCOUNTABILITY GAP.
It is near impossible for organizations to be successful when they have a significant leadership accountability gap. And especially today when the complexity and the pressure are higher than ever. Our newest research shows that organizations today are facing not just one, but multiple, strategic inflection points. They’re needing to change their core business model due to changing customer habits’ they’re navigating an M&A scenario; they’re driving accelerated growth and an array of other challenges that make the risk of failure quite high. And this means that they need their leaders to step up in new and extraordinary ways.
WHAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO:
YOU NEED TO HAVE CLARITY ON THE CURRENT STATE OF YOUR COMPANY’S LEADERSHIP CULTURE:
Below are a few questions that can help you gain greater clarity into the current state of your company’s leadership culture:
- Is there a lack of clarity among leaders around your company’s overall business strategy?
- Do your leaders struggle to collaborate, to the point that they actively avoid all efforts to consult and learn from each other?
- Are there entrenched silos within your organization, that means leaders do not know what their peers are doing in other areas of the same company?
- Do your leaders tend to work at cross-purposes and resist suggestions to support each other?
- Do your leaders hoard information from peers and colleagues?
- Is there friction and even animosity among departments and functions within your organization?
If you answered ‘yes’ to a few of the questions above, you have some work to do to strengthen your leadership culture. There is a good chance that it is a liability and not an asset.
JOIN US ON NOVEMBER 16TH FOR A WEBINAR THAT REVEALS HOW TO BUILD A STRONG LEADERSHIP CULTURE
The Fastest Way to Drive Company Performance
New research has detailed the link between leadership accountability and high performance. We’ll share this research, the exact characteristics of accountability and how you can measure and systematically drive the performance your organization needs.
This week’s Gut Check for Leaders asks: Is your company’s leadership culture an asset or a liability?
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