First, consider the term “culture.” Culture is essentially the product of the behaviors of all individuals in an organization – particularly the leaders, both formal and informal. To inspire trust and confidence, leaders must align their actions with their words. Acting in concert with professed values is the heart of integrity, a hallmark of effective leadership. Without integrity, you can rule but you cannot lead.
So how do you and your leadership team measure up on the integrity front?
▪ Make promises but don’t keep them?
▪ Publicly advocate teamwork but operate more like a team of all-stars, expert in your positions but lacking cooperation?
▪ Endorse transparency but hoard information?
▪ Talk about the importance of feedback but think it flows only from the top down?
▪ Encourage open communication but have no listening posts to ensure a two-way exchange?
▪ Ignore brewing issues and avoid conflict in order to preserve and project a false sense of harmony?
▪ Rely on titles as your sole source of authority rather than set examples that inspire?
▪ Fail to recognize and reward strong performers and address performance issues fairly and forthrightly?
▪ Take credit when things are going well but blame others in times of hardship?
You are busy. You may believe you don’t have time for this squishy, touchy-feely stuff. You may think culture is not important or even real. However, your organization has a culture whether you realize it or not. Your culture has been shaped by you, your colleagues, and your collective words and actions. Your culture can be purposeful and serve your business. Or it can be accidental and undermine your success. You decide.
Next month: Looking beyond leadership at other factors that shape culture.
Linda Clark-Santos, Ph.D., has extensive leadership experience in both the public and private sectors. LCSBUSINESSINSIDER@GMAIL.COM.