Culture Clueless

Nice post, culture is always a good topic.  Organizational culture might be due for a new definition…I wonder if we are up to that?  Something to think about, let me get to your questions.

Do leaders get culture? No.  Some exceptions, sure…but in my experience they are few and far between.  And this is, I believe, more evidence that we do not have the way of leadership that we need today.  Organizational culture is more important today than it has ever been, it is perhaps the biggest lever towards competitive advantage and most “leaders” pretend that it does not exist.

How do you know when a leader gets culture? They make it their job.  They know that guiding and caretaking the culture is some of the most important work for senior leaders and they act accordingly.

Is making an investment in culture a requirement of getting it?  If so, what kind of investment is required? Yes.  We invest our resources in our priorities.  Whether it is financial capital, social capital, personal or political capital you can be intentional and deliberate about culture by investing in it.  The kind of investment varies wildly…depends on the organization and the culture that you are wanting to create.

How does a leader who gets culture operate differently than one who doesn’t? The leader that gets it makes it their job.  The leader that does not get it pretends that it does not exist or does not matter.



  1. I would add this to the last question: The leader who doesn’t get corp culture is the one who is a slave to metrics. ROI is important and the bottom line is important but those are trailing indicators of Corp Culture success/failure and a leader who over-focuses on the numbers is the one who doesn’t get it. The one who gets it uses metrics a one piece of the puzzle, but not the primary piece.

  2. Agree – and the trouble is that our overall business culture emphasises all the things that these managers automatically think / do. In turn, our social culture encourages the business culture to deliver profits and metrics at whatever cost. Success comes from numbers at all levels – not people. Managers have become ‘hard wired’ to behave in the way they do. They get the need for culture change intellectually (the evidence is there) but at a ‘gut’ level, their ‘auto’ response is still the same ‘ol same ‘ol ……we behave according to our programmimg not our intellect!

  3. Most of the Leaders I have worked with actually understood the importance of culture. Their struggle has been figuring out how to change it. The Leaders tried to recreate a culture based upon a former employer or the “best practice” advice of some consultant. The desired culture change however did not occur because the desires, personalities, and preferences of the employees at the new organization were not the same as those employees at the former organization. Every organization is nothing more than the collective whole of all its members/ employees. Most of the Leaders did not understand his/her current culture; so every change initiative was nothing but a crap shoot.

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