And on the Seventh day they did not rest…. they had an Ops meeting!
As a business leader, one of the largest impacts you can have on your department or corporation is the creation of your culture. But don’t just take my advice on it. Peter Drucker's famous quote: "culture eats strategy for lunch" clearly states his position on the importance of a supportive culture to successfully implement your strategy. So if leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin, keeping in mind that the number one thing executives want from their businesses is excellence in execution and consistent execution of strategy by top management, why do so many executives allow their strategy to be the first thing on the luncheon menu?
Over the years I have found three key drivers that keep business leaders from creating a highly functional culture. They are:
1. Misunderstanding of what a culture is.
So first of all, let’s demystify this concept of “culture”. Culture is the set of behaviors, mindsets and practices that defines how you get your work done – that’s it, pure and simple. It’s difficult to capture these definitions but the great part is that, once laid out for you, they are the guiding blueprints you will use everyday to drive your own individual success. When your company’s culture reflects how you think, cultural and strategic alignment are guaranteed.
2. Stated culture is a complete disconnect from how things really get done.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve worked with a company and splashed all over the office walls are their Mission and Vision. Then I spend a couple of hours in a meeting room with their top executives who are making decisions that just so happen to be in direct conflict with their stated culture; a complete and total disconnect. And they wonder why they cannot sustain the success they are looking for! As your business grows so does its complexity, so periodically you need to do "reality checks" to see if your culture is still aligned with your actions. Go beyond your direct reports and find out how your people feel about the culture you have created and its functionality.
3. Lack of commitment to or understanding of the value of a supportive culture.
For some leaders, articulation of their culture is nice to have, especially if they are doing road shows or meeting with key customers to emphasize the purposefulness of their organization. This is what I call a smoke and mirror culture and it does not reflect the reality of the business, but it sure does sound good.
For other leaders, they are willing to support their stated culture as long as it does not interfere with the short-term objectives of the business. This I’ve dubbed the Napoleon culture, which is all based on command and control. Napoleon style thinking has dominated businesses for the last 100 years and while it’s a very efficient method for getting things done, it does not allow the business to store this success and therefore dooms the business to repeat these sprints to partial success over and over.
So everyday you are taking action in your business and each of your employees are watching for real time examples of success to unfold within the organization. At the same time, you are developing plans to significantly grow your business size and profitability.
Wouldn't it be a great idea to marry the two tasks and put your time and thoughts into a culture that will not only support your plans, but also be able to leverage all of the work that has been done?
Now there are only two remaining questions: was Peter Drucker right and what's for lunch??
My goal for this blog has always been two-fold. First, I have the opportunity to share my insights and years of experience with you, the reader. And second, I myself get to hear your thoughts, opinions, experiences, etc. To make this blog a mutually beneficial experience, I would ask that you take the time to post your comments, your questions and your own war stories from your years in the business. Let’s use this blog to generate dialogue on the issues we’ve all faced in our businesses and work together to come to some great solutions.