“Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower
Culture is one of the most powerful factors in any business or organization. It can determine if you are an employer of choice or not. I have experienced many organizational cultures, both first hand and as an external consultant and it either slaps you in the face or inspires you. People can feel the energy of an environment whether it’s of innovation, creativity, empowerment and enlightment or the stifling feeling of dictatorship, avoidance and politics.
Leadership determines culture. We still have a long way to go in our efforts to build cultures that can truly be described as high performing – and the reason lies with the current quality of leadership. One of the key responsibilities I feel leaders have is to create a culture of growth, innovation and creativity. Why else would you employ a team of people? If you want to control and make people do things, perhaps working in an environment like a prison might suit you better. In small business, being controlling and inflexible will only make people want to leave you and feel very unhappy and constricted.
Organisational culture is defined as the shared values, beliefs and expectations that govern the way people approach their work and interact with each other. In other words it's "what am I expected to do in order to fit in and get ahead here". Some of you will be smirking at the last part of the definition, especially those in the corporate world.
Leaders are in complete control of the culture of their business. Organisational, business unit, small or medium business. You have the power to create a positive culture of open communication and creativity where people can grow and develop or you can develop a culture of political frustration, fear and conformity. There are no prizes in guessing which is the most beneficial to a workplace and client service proposition.
As I stated before, generally speaking, we have a long way to go. However, here are some questions for you to answer as a leader to determine the culture of your business:
1. Does your business encourage feedback “up the chain of command” as well as feedback “down the chain”?
2. Is there open and honest communication in the workplace?
3. Do you encourage creativity and people thinking outside the square?
4. Do you empower or dictate?
5. Do you maintain the status quo within your business or do you encourage innovation from all of your team?
6. Does the environment of your business encourage teamwork and support or “every man for himself”?
7. Is gossip rife within your business?
If you answered yes to most these question, congratulations to you. You should have a high performing culture within your business. If you answered no (except to umber 7!) to any of these, it maybe time to review the culture in your business.
Determine the culture you want to see in your business and lead the change. Engage your team in this process to create your culture. You have more chance of your team “owning it” – living it, breathing it and believing it, working towards making you an employer of choice.