A strong and healthy culture is essential for success. There’s a lot of research that confirms that. For example, a Harvard Business Professor, James L. Heskett, discovered that as much as half of the difference in operating profit between organisations can be attributed to effective cultures.
I still remember the stories people told me when I joined a consulting firm I once worked for. Mostly, they were dramatic accounts of struggle resulting in the survival of the fittest and the demise of the weak. Tales of personal sacrifice and heroic “wins” that made failure seem utterly unacceptable.
Probably the most well known and acknowledged organisational culture expert in the world, Ed Schein, was our guest shortly after he celebrated his 90th birthday. And he is not planning to slow down any time soon! His new book, “Humble Leadership” is coming out in July 2018 (you can pre-order it on Amazon) and he has plenty of new projects in the works with his son and other associates (check it out here).
One of the main takeaways from my conversation with Ed is that there is no getting away from it - the person ultimately responsible for organisational culture is the leader. It’s what they do, what they pay attention to, and what they encourage and reward that will ultimately shape the organisation’s culture. Interestingly, it is also what the leaders don’t do and don’t pay attention to that can be a tremendously powerful culture shaping factor. As Ed said in the interview:
When it comes to culture, you get what you settle for.
From Ed Schein to Richard Barrett and Fons Trompenaars, all CultureLab guests agree: leaders are the primary creators of cultures in organisations. It’s their values, behaviours, expectations and decisions that shape the hidden assumptions and unwritten norms in any group.
Imagine what would be possible if you could talk in a way that connects with people's emotions and mobilizes them to action. Or craft stories that give meaning and illustrate what your team or your organization is truly about. Imagine what it would feel like to pitch your products or services at a 100% win rate...
For our organisations to create healthy cultures, we urgently need a new breed of managers: emotionally intelligent, able to give candid feedback, open, transparent and effective in leading organisational change.
Everyone talks about culture. It makes headlines of the major media outlets. It’s on the agenda of executive teams' meetings. Top of mind for Human Resources function. Key focus for all sorts of consultancies. And yet, in spite of all this hype (or is it because of it?), there are still plenty of misconceptions about it.