Ask anyone who’s interacted with me professionally over the past decade. I’m a organizational culture advocate, perhaps a fanatic. Zappos. Google. IBM. Microsoft. U. S. Army or Navy. Each one has a unique culture that drives its progress, and at times, holds it back. Leadership is all about culture. We all know that, right?
Well, as we settle into the New Year, once again, the blogosphere seems inundated with articles debating, espousing, attacking, or simply doubting organizational culture as a focus aspect for 2014. Really, it’s been the same thing for the past half-decade. Culture. Culture. Culture.
So, why is it that most organizations aren’t further down that culture change path? What’s keeping them from transforming their cultures to drive better processes, to become better employers, or to encourage better innovation?
Okay, people….Here it is, the truth, unfettered, unadulterated, and yes, quite possibly unsolicited. (Few people have accused me of conforming to political correctness or of hesitance to offer my perspectives!)
It makes no difference how badly you may want your culture to change….if you don’t change your leadership. Your own leadership style. Your leadership team. Your entire leadership culture!
So, why is this so difficult?
Well, leadership is a habit, and as we all know, habits are hard to kick. So, you learned how to lead years ago (or perhaps only to manage, but you’re not going to let that get in your way, are you?). Well, what are you doing different now than you did a year ago? Two years? I mean, what leadership practices have you fundamentally shifted. What have you truly eliminated in your leadership practice, and what have you actively adopted, adapted, and developed?
In reality, not many leaders can really finger even two or three things about their leadership that they have fundamentally changed. And why is that? Because those are the leadership traits that got them to where they are (or that they BELIEVE got them to a level of success they now enjoy). That’s WHY start-ups have an advantage over established organizations when it comes to creating and sustaining positive organizational cultures aligned with the direction of the organization.
So, let’s just cut to the chase….
If you’ve not made really fundamental changes in your actual, daily leadership practices, stop waving the culture change banner. It’s not going to happen. Let’s not kid ourselves, okay?