What can you expect here?

I am passionate about making a difference to people and organisations- and I guess there are many who would like to do the same. I hope this could be a platform to share views and experiences so that we can all grow together and make a difference.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Culture and Leadership

Continuing our explorations on culture....

Well, the polls always have the last word! Irrespective of the small sample we have had, I would consider the responses as a microcosm of reality- and yes, leadership is the most important determinant of culture in the organisation. Research tells that leadership has a 2x power of influencing culture- well, they are the guys who are running the show, aren't they! Moreover, the woman/man at the very top has an even greater influence.
What then are the challenges in getting leadership to drive a distinct culture? First things first - we have to get alignment at the top on the culture we need. And quite often, this is not easy as this co-ownership has to be quite deep, and based on real alignment of values and intent. This journey of building alignment takes time, it has its ups and downs, moments of truth and catharsis, and sometimes confrontations. This then is the role of the leader of the top team- he has to believe in getting this deep alignment, and work through a series of experiences and interventions to get to a stage where the top team is in full sync.
But this is easier said than done! There are the usual obstacles to such meeting of minds and hearts. First, the leader has to believe that it is critical to get this alignment, and should work consciously and patiently on it. Second, despite the best intentions of all great leaders, how many have the luxury of time to prioritise and focus on this area- the short-term business pressures on modern day CEOs are all-encompassing, and don't leave much room for them to focus on such issues, except for the most prescient and focused of the leaders. Third, longevity of the top team is critical in this journey- they need to spend enough time together as one group. Too much of people moving in and out of the top team saps the energy. And last, given that this is a task that requires a lot of reflection and work on an emotional plane, the leader needs to have a great counsel or coach to help him through this lonely process.
Being a visionary and charismatic leader probably makes things a bit easier- the way Steve Jobs or a Richard Branson can bring their personality to bear in pulling together a culture that they passionately believe in is something not all can do. However, there is the obvious danger in being too much individual leader driven while we build the culture of an organisation.
As Rosabeth Moss Kanter says, 'in the middle, every change is a failure'. So would it be when we build an aligned culture agenda with the top team!  


  1. this is a promising start..looking forward to reading this blog

  2. agree.. Culture is all about the right LEADERS and ALIGNMENT between them - and both are not easy... I believe HR leaders can facilitate both.

  3. I feel the true test of culture is "Constructive behavior of employees when they are fully aware that no one significant is watching, no performance evaluation impact & no repurcussions on their career". I feel that building a collective corporate conscience grounded in principles and values by selecting, rewarding, recognizing & growing leaders of "character" & "integrity" would make the difference. Easy said than done, but it starts with self. The question for ever leader/ individual to ask is - "Can I stand all temptations of the corporate world, more so when I am in a position of power & influence and be guided by doing the right thing and not only doing things right.

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  6. Leadership is not only about individual successes. A good leader takes responsibility to ensure the success of their entire team.

    A good leader doesn't just need to know how to handle people, he also needs to alter his behaviour, at times, to get the best out of people. He needs to be able to connect with people and assess them well.

    That being said, leaders are not born. Some people are just more inclined to lead. But even then, proper training is essential in order to put their concepts of leadership, team etc. in place and show them how to handle situations with a firm hand without leaning towards a dictatorial behaviour.
    This is what the training programs at 'Beyond Horizons' aim at.
    For more information, visit us at www.beyondhorizons.in

  7. Organization culture is so important. You have put forth the views in a very nice way. I do agree with you. In the long run, a company is perceived by the culture and the values, so doing it the right way is most important. Involvement and participation of all stakeholders is spot on!!

  8. The organization’s culture can help or hinder the success of the company. When you walk into a company, you can quickly identify some of the cultural elements based on what you see, how you are greeted, what you experience, traditions discussed, etc. The cultural elements of an organization are everywhere.

  9. This both plays an important role in any organisation as well as society..