Am back after a longish hiatus!
Continuing our explorations of creating the right culture in organisations......
Over the last few months, I have been reading and exploring the impact of the leader, and it is fairly obvious that the leader casts a really long shadow on the culture of an organisation. There are two questions that come to my mind as we delve deeper into this phenomena:
First, lets look at the 'great bad men' syndrome. Many of the great leaders usually have a couple of traits that works for them, but taken to an extreme, the same strengths can have extreme debilitating effects on culture. How do we balance 'greatness' and 'meanness'? Most organisations with a very unique culture have a 'this is the way we do it here' kind of a leader. What drives them, and how can we get the best out of them, and yet keep their certain whims from coming in the way of the culture of the organisation.
I read about Rupert Murdoch in the Economist recently (from where I borrowed the 'great bad men' epithet). A great man, undoubtedly, for having changed the television and media industry, but could the organisation have done something to keep check on the 'scoop-at-all-cost' culture. Similarly, I wonder about Steve Jobs- sheer brilliance in building a customer and product centric culture, but is there is a faint streak of authoritarianism that runs through in Apple? This is where my dilemma is- if we meddle in the culture of such organisations, you tend to dilute the unique edge that these leaders have brought to it. On balance, I think it may be better to live with these rough edges ..... what do you think? Or is there a way to temper those edges appropriately?
Which then leads me to my second, and a much larger question. What drives leaders to focus on building a strong sustainable culture? While the intellectual part of the 'case for culture' is easier, as it is linked to the culture elements needed to drive strategy, there is a subconscious, emotional part of this need that is far more powerful and critical. In my experience, it is the personal desire that certain leaders have, part stemming from ego, and part from a strong belief in a particular way of working, that is much more potent in driving culture. I guess it is for organisations to understand this and build on it- not always easy, as we need to ensure that this personal drive is aligned to what the organisation needs at that point in time. Any experiences you would like to share that will help us understand this better?
Your responses to the poll will help us understand the motivation of leaders in driving culture.... Cheers