Home Concepts Organizational Theory The Organizational “House of Culture”

The Organizational “House of Culture”

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Senior Leadership

Conners and Smith (2011) state that “either you manage your culture or it will manage you”. I agree! Many corporate leaders are aware of their organization’s culture and its importance, but less aware of how to manage it. Too often it is considered the domain of human resources, and not that of the core business. This is a fatal mistake. Leaders and managers should understand organizational culture as it relates to required behaviors across the corporation or in their business functions as much as they understand other key performance issues such as their workflow and financial planning. Leaders, and in particular founding leaders, have more impact on corporate culture than any other single factor. For example, in a large retail banking group I worked with some years ago, smiling and appearing to be having fun was considered a career limiting behavior. On joining the organization, this was so evident that I investigated this more deeply as part of an effort to implement a customer focused strategy. I found that this was largely based on the story – told and retold – that the legendary Chairman had once told a photographer chartered to take his photograph for the annual report that “banking is a serious business and we do not smile around here” – so no one smiled -ever! My interaction many months later with this individual indicated a very different personality – he was deeply interested and concerned about employees and customers. Without deep understanding of the impact senior leaders have on organization culture and day to day behavior, the misalignment of strategy execution and culture can be fatal to strategy execution and business success. Leaders need to develop specific skills for techniques such as storytelling and creating behavioral learning to shift behavior.

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