Understanding the impact leadership has on an organisation's culture, and what you can do to improve it.

The values and beliefs that underlie a culture are often articulated by leaders, and this can help to explain why they play such an important role in developing the culture of an organisation. Leaders are influential in shaping the behaviours and values of those around them, and they can help new cultures to form. They help to embed cultures, whilst allowing that culture to evolve over time. It is important to recognise that leaders influence others not just through what they say, but primarily through their actions. Therefore, a leader should act in accordance with the type of culture they wish to reinforce because they are role models to others.

Leaders need to be mindful of the way they articulate their values, the things they pay attention to, how they react in crises, how they allocate resources and rewards and other behaviours they model on a day-to-day basis. They help to reinforce what they consider to be important through their ability to support and manage staff, encouraging others to adapt in line with the culture of that organisation.  Additionally, leaders can help to influence organisational design, procedures and formal statements about the organisation’s philosophy.

We tend to view our manager as a representative of the organisation, and if we respect and like our leader, we are more likely to follow them and align ourselves with their values. However, if the leader is seen to be unsupportive, the impact they have on others is likely to be limited. This highlights how the behaviour of the leader shapes how people perceive their place of work, and the development of the culture they operate within.

How can organisations understand and improve their organisational culture

1. Conduct a cultural assessment

With so many influencing factors, the task of managing culture is challenging and, to add to the difficulty, it’s not defined, owned, or controlled by one person or group. Many organisations may opt to conduct in-house culture assessments; however, they may not have a good enough understanding or the right level of expertise, the process, or resources available to effectively identify both their current and desired culture. As a result, the assessment might not truly reflect the workforce’s experience of the workplace, the cultures that prevail and the values that guide behaviour. This is why organisations often turn to companies like Zeal Solutions to conduct a professional and unbiased cultural assessment.

2. Invest in your leaders

Your leaders are of vital importance. Developing effective leadership is more than promoting a high-performing individual to a managerial position. Organisations that adopt this strategy often find that whilst their newly appointed leaders are highly competent, they can lack the skills and confidence needed to lead others. Leadership training can help equip your leaders with the confidence and skills to promote your culture in the right way, helping to create a more engaged, inspired and motivated workforce.

If you would like to talk to us about organisational culture audits or leadership training, please contact us.

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