If Your Leader Doesn’t Embody Company Culture…Why Follow It? 

by | Mar 22, 2024

Back in my early days of consulting, I ran into a CEO who thought attending a culture workshop was beneath them. My response? I fired the client. It was a no-holds-barred lesson in commitment or the glaring lack thereof. Let’s not sugarcoat it: The backbone of any organizational culture is as strong or as brittle as the leadership propelling it. In a world where action speaks louder than a thousand strategic plans, a glaring gap often emerges between what leaders say and what they actually do. This gap isn’t just disappointing; it’s the breeding ground for a pervasive culture of inaction and skepticism within the organization. Consider this: every time a leader opts to “sit this one out” or delegates the dirty work of culture-building while remaining conspicuously absent, they’re not just missing in action. They’re actively crafting a narrative that screams, “This isn’t really important.” It’s a powerful, albeit negative, form of leadership by example. The message is crystal clear: If the leaders don’t buy in, why on earth should anyone else? But here’s the thing, Accountability within the context of organizational culture is often treated like a hot potato, everyone knows it’s important, but few want to hold onto it for long. Yet, without leaders who are willing to roll up their sleeves and dive into the trenches of culture-building, accountability becomes an empty buzzword. The truth is, you can’t expect to cultivate a culture of accountability if you, as a leader, are viewed as above or apart from the cultural shifts you aim to instigate. The ripple effect of leadership inaction is both profound and far-reaching. Employees aren’t just passive participants in this drama; they’re keen observers and, ultimately, the judges of leadership authenticity. In the stark light of unmet expectations, skepticism thrives. It gnaws away at the foundations of trust and engagement, leaving behind a shell of what could have been a vibrant, dynamic culture. What’s next on our path forward? We face these questions directly. Our focus is on cultivating authentic leadership—leaders whose actions reflect their commitment to accountability, bridging the gap between what’s said and done, which transforms skepticism into belief and inaction into engagement. The role of leadership in shaping organizational culture cannot be overstated. When leaders consistently demonstrate their commitment to culture-building through their actions, they not only set the stage for positive change but also model the accountability necessary for that change to take root and flourish. Elsewhere In Culture
I was recently on PIX, diving straight into the heart of why including more women in leadership roles is crucial for business. We touched on solid data showing that companies with a diverse mix of genders at the top are 25% more likely to see their profitability soar above average. It’s not just about filling executive positions; women as influencers, brand ambassadors, and thought leaders are making huge impacts across various industries. Take Taylor Swift’s unexpected financial boost to the NFL or Mel Robbins shaking up the publishing world as prime examples. The conversation took a turn to address the unsettling trend of fewer women in leadership, despite them making up a large part of the workforce. I pointed out the real issues here: the balancing act between work and home life, compounded by the wage gap. I’m a big advocate for transparency about salaries. It’s time to break the taboo and encourage open discussions on pay. This step is key to leveling the playing field. Why Ben & Jerry’s Will Keep Its Progressive Politics After Unilever Divorce Ben & Jerry’s impending split from Unilever is a significant moment that underscores the tension between maintaining a company’s core values and the pressures of being part of a global conglomerate. This story is about more than just ice cream; it’s a clear indication that a company’s commitment to social causes and its employees can sometimes clash with the broader corporate objectives of a parent company. Ben & Jerry’s has shown that it’s possible to stand firm on progressive politics and a social mission, even when faced with challenges from within the corporate structure. Their journey highlights the importance of preserving a company’s unique culture and values, even in the face of operational and strategic pressures from a larger entity. The situation with Ben & Jerry’s illustrates the essential truth that a strong, values-driven culture is not just a nice-to-have; it’s a key component of business success. Our work focuses on helping organizations embed their core values into every aspect of their operations, ensuring that their culture is a powerful lever for achieving both social impact and business objectives. As Ben & Jerry’s navigates its next steps, possibly as an independent company once again, their experience reinforces the message we champion: a well-defined and actively cultivated company culture is fundamental to driving meaningful and lasting results. Let’s work together to create organizations where culture is at the heart of success.
WOW! What a great episode this week on the Culture Leaders Podcast. We had the pleasure of speaking with Shan Cooper, a leader in diversity and corporate culture with over 30 years of experience in business operations, human capital management, transformation, and enterprise risk management. As the former Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion at Lockheed Martin, she discusses in this clip how Lockheed Martin was one of the pioneering companies that redefined DEI as more than “just a program” by integrating it deeply into their culture. Catch the full discussion here: Youtube: https://lnkd.in/esWAXxGK Spotify: https://lnkd.in/eas2P8fy Apple: https://lnkd.in/eBpaXYK8