The Importance of Leadership for Culture in an Organization

Leadership and culture should go hand-in-hand. Once an Organization’s ideal culture is determined, Leaders should exhibit the behaviors they want to see in their Team.

As a reminder…

Organizational Culture

Organization culture is the combination of team BEHAVIORS (what people do) and VALUES (why they do what they do).

When you think of an Agile organization’s “behaviors and values,” Agile leaders would agree that an Agile culture is explicitly designed to cultivate team members that are motivated, confident, engaged, empowered, trusting, committed, innovative, internally motivated, and personally accountable.

Is that how you would describe your Team Members?  Is that how you would describe yourself?

If not, you’re not alone. Even when Agile Leaders actively promote and reward the specific values and behaviors that support those descriptors, cultural inertia reinforces old habits, which makes transformation difficult.

A leader should support ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE by:

Walk the Talk—When a leader can stand before their employees and say “I made a mistake – and this is what we’re going to do to fix it” sets a positive example of accountable behavior that employees won’t be afraid to emulate.

Define Results and Expectations—Don’t wait for a mistake to happen and then waste energy finding who is to blame. Instead, set clear standards and expectations before the work even starts.

Gain Commitment—Without commitment, we get compliance or even resistance. “I’ll try” is not a commitment. Ask: “Do I have your commitment?, and listen to any concerns. Work with the employee to overcome barriers and figure out what needs to do to obtain their commitment.

Be Open to Feedback and Problem-Solving—In other words, never “shoot the messenger.” Have an open-door environment where any employee is empowered to bring any problem to anyone in the organization without fear of repercussion.

Hire Accountable Employees—Don’t just hire for technical skills and experience, hire for cultural fit. Look for a track record of admitting mistakes and overcoming obstacles.

Coach Employees on How to Be Accountable—Many individuals come from backgrounds where they never had to be accountable. They are used to awards for 5th place. They may have to learn new skills and behaviors, like critical thinking and problem before they can begin to thrive in a culture of accountability.

Consequences and Reinforcement—Ultimately, there have to be consequences for consistently poor performance and reinforcing for positive results and behaviors. Without this, employees will soon catch on that accountability is all talk and no action.

Hold Each Other Accountable—In a culture of accountability, leaders don’t just hold employees accountable for results. Everyone holds everyone accountable! Every employee takes ownership of organizational results, not just their own little part of the world. Again, leaders can role model, teach, and reinforce this kind of ownership mentality.