Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. said, “A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.” So, when an opportunity presents itself to learn from those who have repeatedly and successfully managed the culture journey, it’s imperative to take the leap. I shared this post previously on ConstructiveCulture.com and offer it here to ensure these vital insights reach those who, like me, care deeply about workplace culture and effective change.
It’s essential for leaders and change agents to learn from the culture pioneers and experts in this evolving field. Human Synergistics convenes an annual Ultimate Culture Conference to bring visibility to important insights from culture trailblazers and progressive leaders. If you’re able to attend this forum, make sure you do—you’ll be glad you did. The insights you gain may be worth a life’s experience. Let’s get started.
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.
Many of us feel at times as if we are impersonating a leader rather than working out what it means to be ourselves in a position of leadership. Instead of covering up those underdeveloped areas, great leaders learn how to be the best versions of themselves in the leadership moments that matter. Because organizational culture is made through the shared experiences of its people, empowering individual leaders to step forward more authentically becomes a catalyst for positive culture change.
It’s time to turn the culture world upside down and explode many incorrect notions that are preventing meaningful culture change for organizations and society. We’ve reached a critical point where most leaders are aware culture is important, but they range from being confused to intentionally uninformed about what culture change is all about. This culture awareness-education gap appears to be growing, with a proliferation of over-simplified or incorrect education, unreliable surveys and analytics, so-called experts at every turn, and leaders seduced by the latest trend or silver bullet.