5 Ways for Leaders to Influence Organizational Culture

One can’t completely manage a complex entity like culture, one however, can do one’s part to transform it. Here is what we suggest you do: 

1. Ceaselessly sense the culture. Walk around with a mental video-recorder and observe the culture as it presently is. Think back concerning the chairs example. Anytime you hear ‘That’s simply how things are around here.’—Bingo.

Related: The Doing and Being or Authentic Leadership

There are assessments to provide you a state of your existing culture. Your job is to incessantly do this, not once a year during a strategic workshop.

2. Endlessly contribute to the conversation of what the culture needs to be. Work to align your organization on what the ‘to be’ state of the culture is.

“What aspects of our current culture are serving us and what aspects are literally impeding us to grow and build value? (Yep, that links to business strategy.”

3. Model the culture in your own behavior. Begin by showing the ‘to be’ culture in ways you want employees and managers to emulate. Doing so in little ways does not imply incrementally as you may well have lost market share in a world moving at the speed of thought. What you do and what you say has an enormous impact on culture.

Related: 6 Ways to Develop the Right Leadership Competency

4. Dampen the elements of the culture that are impeding growth. An effective way to get less of unwanted cultural aspects is to ignore them and not dignify those with attention. If that doesn’t do the trick, call those behaviors out or actively oppose them.

5. Strengthen the elements of the culture that are not delivering growth. Also celebrate behaviors that build a cohesive and healthy culture.

Bill Hogg extends poignant suggestions particularly for anyone who wants to make change stick:

“Set Expectations and help people build the required skills. Most people want to improve their professional skill set and make a difference. To do this, you need to provide them with the tools, resources, and opportunities that allow them to grow and gain confidence in their ability to meet expectations and fit seamlessly into your vision for organizational culture. Offer coaching and training, and reinforce the company’s mission, vision and values through regular communication.

You also need to set expectations in the form of personal objectives each year. Make sure that your team knows they are part of the culture you are creating and clearly communicate how the company will help them develop the required skills to be successful contributors. Set expectations, but also show them the path to move forward by offering support along the way.”

With that being said, in any training program there is the after glow period. Where notebooks and assessments along with suggested improvements are securely cached. This makes culture more than a joint activity, but a leadership imperative. You are required to do the follow up. If you make the task difficult and unyielding so will your people. My team and I at Woods Kovalova Group are here to help you build a team that solves problems and energize growth. Contact us here. Thank you.

About Jim Woods

Jim Woods, President Woods Kovalova Group, LLC.

Jim Woods, President Woods Kovalova Group, LLC.

Jim Woods is President of Woods Kovalova Group. His clients have included Whirlpool, Berkshire Hathaway, U.S. Army and National Defense Contractors. A former elementary teacher and university professor professor Jim is an advocate for helping organizations become a place fit for people. Hire Jim as speaker or trainer.