A Look in the Mirror
Can you find the common theme in these stories I heard last week?
CEO of a global life-sciences company was exasperated about talented, intelligent, and fundamentally sound management committee members that simply can’t seem to get along and don’t work well together.
University official lamented an unacceptable organizational culture that allowed and enabled bad behavior and which severely tarnished the institution’s sterling reputation.
Executive Director of an internationally known not-for-profit shared concerns over silo-ed behavior and passive-aggressive tactics of an otherwise capable and committed executive team.
Chief Executive of a growth-country market for an industry-leading multi-national corporation practically screamed in frustration over functional support groups’ arrogance and myopic thinking that inhibit global growth.
A corporate CIO walked away from a million dollar retention bonus because of what he described as the self-focus of the CEO, and similar behaviors reflected throughout the leadership team.
What links each story? Each is a tale of poor leadership behavior and dysfunction, but it’s more than that—the core issue in each case is forgotten, ignored or compromised values.
Consider: Values form the basis for behavior—behavior is how we do what we do—culture is the sum total of demonstrated behaviors routinely evident in an organization—the way we do things around here.
The way we do things, i.e. our culture, produces predictable performance. So, if you want to generate specific anticipated results you must, by necessity, address culture. If you want to change or transform culture, you must begin by selecting and modeling the right values.
That’s right, if you want to transform your organization to deliver predictable, sustainable, extraordinary results, the process is relatively simple, although never easy. You just need to start modeling and live-out the values-based behaviors that are necessary to produce the performance you expect.
At military school thirty-three years ago I learned: “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” The leadership corollary is: “You can neither expect nor inspect what you haven’t taught and demonstrated by example.”
Culture begins at the top of the house. Who the leader is and how the leader behaves is emulated by those below. That behavior literally becomes the culture—that’s why culture defined is: the way we do things around here.
For living proof about the power of example to form culture, most of us need only look to our own families. Watching Junior, whether the behavior is good or bad, how often have we heard: “He’s just like his father….?”
Do you want to change or transform your organization? You’ll need to change the culture. That change begins with your values… and a very long, hard look in the mirror.