Each workplace has a culture unique to it. A culture is, essentially, the shared perceptions, values, group norms and objectives/goals within a social unit, and includes how the unit solves problems, justifies themselves and interacts with each other. It can also include physical aspects such as the way an office is laid out or the type of furniture that’s used.

Basically, culture is “the way things work here”.

It’s not enough to say that your culture is a certain way; imposing rules that people may or may not follow doesn’t make a culture, it’s in the way a team behaves.

Many managers do understand how important of a factor culture is in the performance of a company, but a lot believe that they can just ‘say’ they have a good culture, and it will be so. Culture is not something that can be implemented; it is the product of experience and learning over the years. Culture must also be adaptable, as it can become a liability and hinder a company’s success as changes arise in the market and in technology.

Leadership and culture are intertwined fundamentally in many important ways. A company that is not run by founders or entrepreneurs but rather by general managers that have been promoted, leadership is limited due to the reflection of the history of the leaders and founders on the culture.

Introducing a new leader to a company with a strong culture and long history will cause some conflict with what the culture allows as the new leader imposes their ideas, and the new leader can only win by letting go a large amount of the old culture’s carriers – something that turnaround managers often do.

However, though the new leader is then starting fresh, and implementing the behaviour patterns and values they wish to see, it cannot be called a new culture until the employees internalise it and it has been successful for many years.

A new leader who imposes new values and behaviours has to do more than just hope that these new ideas result in improved performance. New leaders need to be clear about their expectations and goals, and how they will be implemented. They can also begin the work to dismantle the harmful attributes of the current culture while reinforcing the positive aspects, leading (hopefully) to increased performance.

Teams that are working under great leaders and within a culture that resonates with them are much more likely to be satisfied with their workplace, leading to a high retention rate and improved performance thanks to feeling motivated, respected and valued.

As mentioned above, you cannot just decide that you will have a new culture – culture is something that grows over many years and is successful, as well as being internalised by the employees. Leaders have a huge influence on the culture of a company, and so have a direct correlation with the performance of themselves and those they manage. Invest in great leaders who embody your culture (or the culture you wish to have) and you should see your organisation’s performance improving in no time.

Find out more about LeadershipHQ’s strategies and programs today for Corporates and SME’s today at www.leadershiphq.com.au

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