Page 24 - Network Magazine Fall 2018
P. 24

           How Leadership Changes Culture – Part II
DAVID OLSON, PRINCIPAL & SENIOR ADVISOR N2GROWTH
 A few issues ago I began unpacking how “leadership changes culture” by giving a backdrop on the creation of The Culture Compass® in 2006 designed to help CEO’s measure and manage culture. I addressed three barriers I learned that were holding back real change; un-custom- izable employee engagement surveys, a lack of actionable implementation, and the missing culture cog. In this is- sue, we will jump right into the six leadership factors that change a culture. For the purposes of this article, leader- ship is defined as the CEO and his or her executive team.
1. Leadership Cares
2. Leadership Alignment
3. Leadership Listens
4. Leadership Commitment
5. Leadership Implementation
6. Leadership Flexibility
Leadership Cares
There are different reasons why leaders care. I had one client who cared because he was experiencing an employee revolt. He was truly concerned that if he did not get his arms wrapped around his dysfunctional cor- porate culture that he would have a mass exodus on his hands. Some leaders care because they understand that improved culture leads to improved profitability. Other leaders care because they want to enrich the lives of their employees. Bottom line, the leadership needs to care. A friend and colleague of mine who was the President of a mid-market global firm told me flat out; he just didn’t care. The employees to him were a means to an end. Another human resource colleague of mine cares deeply about changing their culture, but she isn’t the CEO, and without the CEO caring, it will never get the attention it needs.
Leadership Alignment
When beginning a culture change endeavor, the likeli- hood that the CEO and all of the executive team really cares, views culture impact with the same gravity, and has the same cultural values is rare. For successful culture change to occur, leadership needs to be aligned. This is not an easy task, but my pill for the cure is training. With each culture change engagement I deliver, I interview and train the leadership team together. We review how it impacts their business, and we talk about what kind of culture they have and want. We even design the em- ployee engagement survey together for aligned executive level buy-in. People own what they help to create, so in this manner, the leadership team owns their culture and shifts into alignment.
Leadership Listens
One of the most important messages you can send to peo- ple that follow you is that you listen. That means you ask for opinions and give others an opportunity to influence. When you incorporate a strong feedback mechanism in your employee engagement survey, you create a pathway for communication that fuels employees’ personal value. The key though is to listen. The biggest mistake to cor- porate culture change is to ask and not act. Essentially communicating that you are not listening. I encourage my clients to respond to culture change feedback even if the ideas cannot be adopted—this reinforces that you have listened.
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