The distinguishing feature of leading organizations is their culture. It affects performance, employee engagement, and the ability to create an innovative and positive work environment.
Leaders drive Culture, Culture drives Performance
Leaders have a significant impact on those around them and on the culture of their organization. And since culture affects every aspect of an organization, ranging from employee engagement, quality, agility, and innovativeness to brand and financial performance and long-term sustainability, we depend on leaders to lead in ways that create a culture that supports problem-solving and the long-term effectiveness of their organizations.
CEOs are the ultimate leaders, decision-makers, strategists, and visionaries, and their job is no easy feat. Facing high expectations and significant challenges, CEOs are under tremendous pressure to deliver results quickly. They’re often the first ones in the office, the last ones to leave, and they’re responsible for steering the ship through both smooth and rough waters. Given these challenges, the fact that CEOs show up to work day after day is expected yet admirable.
Each month I receive an email with a preview of the latest leadership books. There are always five or six new entrants in this already crowded field. Meanwhile, my Twitter feed overflows with three steps, five tips, and seven ways to improve engagement, build trust, and employ mindfulness.
Yet with all this knowledge available, employees don’t seem to feel as if they are being led any more skillfully than in the past. In my travels, I encounter people frustrated by seemingly arbitrary rules, vague visions, out-of-touch bosses, and a lack of development opportunities. They are confused by labor laws and company policies, which often are evolving more slowly than the work arrangements of an agile, tech-enabled economy. Further, data from Gallup has shown that workforce engagement has hovered around 30 percent for years.
We are living in extraordinary times – volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous.
The pace of change will never be this slow again.
In the service sector, many traditional approaches are no longer relevant and there is a new business agenda emerging.
We are living in an age of hyper change and massive disruption, what Daniel Pink calls “The Conceptual Age” stating that the future “belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind”: a new breed of knowledge workers, who know how to be, think and act differently within the context of an agile innovation culture.
When it comes to the complex topic of culture, all you can do is hope. In my experience with some of the largest companies in their respective industries, hope is the flawed strategy most commonly deployed.