How to Build a Leadership Culture

Why an organisation needs to develop a culture

In Summary

•Leaders drive culture by behaviour, thereby inspiring others to participate

•A culture campaign must involve adequate training and effective communication.

In my view, culture is a tool; it is a way of behaviour that helps an organisation achieve its purpose. This means that culture must be designed to achieve a vision and empower people.

Does your corporate culture encourage or discourage leadership? Is it designed to grow people’s leadership capacity? Does it challenge people to become the best version of themselves?

Building a leadership culture is not a vague idea. It means that your organisation nurtures, produces and empowers good leaders who make the corporate vision happen. So, how do you build an effective leadership culture? Here are four principles to help you.

Be Intentional about Culture: Often, we read about the corporate culture of massive organisations like Google, MetaJP Morgan, Oracle, etc., and they seem magical. But culture isn’t magic. Someone or a group intentionally crafts an organisation’s corporate culture. An organisation that has a clear vision or purpose crafts a culture to ensure that the vision is achieved. It must be done intentionally, and a leader or management team must be ready to drive the culture home.

Define Culture Behaviour: America has a coffee culture while the United Kingdom has a tea culture – one drinks coffee, while the other drinks tea. Drinking is the behaviour that powers the culture. After you’ve determined the corporate culture that you wish to promote, what set of behaviours must you display to enforce your chosen culture? You must be clear about this for culture to take effect.

When behaviour is determined, the leader or leadership team must take the lead in displaying the culture’s behavioural patterns. Leaders drive culture by behaviour, thereby inspiring others to participate. 

 Train Your Culture: Building and sustaining corporate culture is a complex process. Therefore, a culture campaign must involve adequate training and effective communication. Beyond the traditional training, the new thinking being adopted must be embedded systematically through behavioural display, informal trainings, accountability systems, intense dialogue at multiple levels, incentives to practice the culture, etc. People must be taught to become skilled in the new way of thinking.

Deploy Your Culture: Employees need to practice and experience the culture for themselves. Let them make mistakes along the way, and use those mistakes as learning moments. Entrust your teams with the culture, believing that they will figure it out. Give your employees the chance to see that the culture can deliver on its promise without micromanaging them. Trust your people with it, and the culture will become their growth chamber.

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