Culture eats strategy for breakfast. What a big idea, right?
As a leader in your organization, you proudly celebrate the wins. On occasion, it doesn’t work that way and during a loss, you may ask yourself whether it was you, your team, or the organization as the root cause. With each examination, you may see a pattern within your company culture itself, through discussion, surfacing time and time again.
Two areas of tension leaders in any organization must balance daily are that of hard and soft skills. Most leaders excel greatly in hard skills. They know their product or service inside and out. They understand delivery and execution in order to promote and provide markets for their product or service. It is then not surprising that with leaders focused so strong on hard skills, many lack what amounts to be the equally, if not of greater importance, the soft skills needed to manage the people of the organization.
Through many years of coaching leaders, it has become clear to me that there are three primary areas of competencies needed within any organization. They include:
Great leaders are effective communicators. What are we communicating? What are the questions we’re asking? Are we taking time to actually listen to understand what’s happening? And then being able to turn around and explicitly share those ideas with a broader audience and making sure it lands and hits its mark so that we know that we’re communicating clearly and effectively that engages the rest of our people. (We recommend leaders start by answering 3 questions).
We are wired for meaningful relationships. Sometimes, when we meet with people, there’s just a disconnect. And sometimes we just don’t even know why. It’s often this place of just connection with those key people. We really want to understand what’s happening there, and what can we do to build stronger levels of trust and unity so that we can have a healthy working relationship? (We recommend the Conversationalist for building stronger connection).
Change is necessary for continued growth. That’s a big idea in terms of a leadership sense of expectations. Are we moving too fast? Perhaps we’re moving too slow. Somewhere in there is finding that cadence of what is the rate of change where we work well and thrive within. Change is hard and if we don't change, then things won’t happen as we expect, and our results will suffer.
What is Culture?
Values + Behavior = Culture
To deep dive into your organization, your team, or even the culture that you live as a leader, look at those values. What are the things that are core to who you are? Are you moving them from implicit ideas to explicit? When you do, then, you can begin putting a plan together on how to live those ideas out.
Culture is a complex idea because we’re dealing with the soft skills. If you want to improve your culture, start there. What are those values? How do we live them out?
I would encourage you to look at those three areas of communicating effectively, being able to make strong connections with your people, and then, finally, look at your expectation around change management.
When you do the above suggested actions, they will strengthen your culture. When blended with your strategy, suddenly you’re going to see your results successfully executed, positively affecting your bottom line. Hope this has been helpful.