Conducting Business: Embodied Leadership and ‘Beautiful’ Cultures

Part 5 of 5

conducting business cultures

This post is the last in a series of five articles describing a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, designed and run over a four-year period by Dr. Mark Powell, one of the authors of this article. Previous posts have looked at the way in which delegates to the programme worked with dancers, actors and jazz musicians. This final post explores the most ‘hands-on’– and for many delegates the most emotional – element of the programme: the experience of conducting a small chamber choir.

Culture and Purpose: Below the Surface of Sears’ and Amazon’s Culture

culture purpose below surface

Disturbing employee quotations

“He would find a hole in the data and then explode.”

“I would see people practically combust.”

“There are so many people running for the door not just because the ship is sinking, but because the captain of the ship is screaming at them, blaming it on them, and telling them it’s their fault.”

“The joke in the office was that when it came to work/life balance, work came first, life came second, and trying to find the balance came last.”

“You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus.”

You might be excused for thinking these quotations stem from some terrifying, corporate Ayn Rand winner-takes-all hell-hole where fear, intimidation, and bullying ruled the day. Ironically, these quotations come from employees of two of the most famous retailers on the planet.

Culture as a Core Business Strategy

An emergent approach to a living culture

emergent culture

I often wonder how many organizations truly put the effort into understanding how culture is fundamental to their business success and how to optimize such to bring their desired culture into the fabric of the organization.

For the sake of common understanding, let’s define culture as:

‘Influencing patterns’ that people consistently and congruently experience over time which emerge as the norms, beliefs, values and practices that guide people in their perspectives, attitudes, decisions and behaviors.’

Leveraging Culture and Managing Change

Performance through engagement—The Force Multiplier Theory

the force-multiplier

The following opinion is an extended look into “The Force Multiplier Theory.” It’s a concept I’ll introduce below, and it’s one we routinely use in helping organizations, teams, and leaders to understand the role of culture in organizational performance and effectiveness.

The overarching idea isn’t rocket science. Seemingly, whenever we share this perspective with people they always nod their heads in agreement and say, “absolutely,” or “we really need that.” Yet, as basic as the idea might seem, we still see organizations struggle with this concept and fail to invest in it, or not to its full potential.

Developing a Jazz Culture

Part 4 of 5

developing a jazz culture

This post is the fourth in a series of five articles describing a major arts-based leadership development programme at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School, designed and run over a four-year period by Dr. Mark Powell, one of the authors of this article. The aim was to create a new culture of ‘open mindedness’ among the senior project managers of a UK oil and gas exploration company, encouraging them to interact more effectively with the other stakeholders in their capital projects and enhancing their ability to improvise in the face of rapidly changing situations.