Saturday, October 11, 2014

Is Culture Defined by Leadership

Culture steps from the mindsets and behaviors of the leaders.

Some define culture as "what happens when managers are not around". Based on this, of course, leadership defines the culture and culture steps from the mindset and behavior of the leadership.

Culture has both endogenous and exogenous components. The population that joins an organization is often influenced by the nature of the organization's purpose, its historical heritage, its physical location, etc. For example, people who work in some traditional organizations in a metropolitan area must be tolerant of having to travel into a city, wear a tie, and feel comfortable in a large hierarchical organization. That is a pretty strong filter: it will promote a conservative culture. And when we refer to the startup culture which indicates the open minded and innovative culture.

Culture stems from the mindset and behavior of the leadership: The spirit of organizations comes from the top, and culture is the collective mindset and behavior stem from the 'mainstream' mindset and behavior of the leadership. For example, if leaders demonstrate thoughtful risk taking and reward thoughtful risk taking - even when the outcome is not all that was hoped for - then that culture will permeate the organization - to the extent that it can give the innate nature of the organization's population.

As leaders, you may always have to think the two sides of the coin as well: There needs to be structure and discipline along with flexibility, because what we are hoping to trade is flexibility for more productivity and if productivity drops then it could be something wrong. This requires a level of maturity on all sides. That's why management has to be sensitive to people's schedules. Simply allowing everyone any kind of flexibility that they ask for will not work well - you will find that meetings don't have a quorum, etc. People all need to have a shared baseline of the time window they use for meetings and other joint activities. And work needs to be measured by outcomes - not by hours logged in the office: that requires a manager who talks to everyone about what they are doing on a frequent basis, engage and motivate employees in the right way.

The core things in the culture: Many times, the culture debate is over-complicated in most respects. Talent managers need to be a lot more pragmatic about it. most people are looking for the same core values in a culture:
- balance 
- fairness 
- respect 
- feeling valued 
- set up to succeed by management 
- well organized systems and processes 
- empathy, everyone treated like a grown adult 
- maturity, basically, anything that a reasonable, mature person needs to maintain their sanity 

Culture is like the water, it can keep the business float and flow, and push the organization in the right direction, to achieve the high performing result effortlessly, it can also drag down the enterprise ship and sink it. Hence, leaders must become the change champion the culture master to delearn and relearn culture knowledge; define, and refine the core value of culture, and become the center of culture changes and advocate of culture evolution. The positive, progressive and innovative mind of the leaders is like the gem to make the culture shine through. 


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