Five Ways Leaders Indirectly Impact Culture

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A few weeks ago I shared with you four ways that leaders directly impact the culture within organisations. In contrast to direct impact there are ways that leaders impact culture indirectly. In our work on culture with a range of organisations across different industries we have seen organisations challenged by all five impact areas in various ways.

Ensure Mission and Philosophy is clearly understood so people know what they should focus on and how they should respond or behave in a range of situations. When people at every level understand why the company exists, what it is there to do, and the guidelines for decisions and behaviours, they are more likely to display greater initiative, self-set goals, be more creative, and willingly take on more challenging tasks as they see that what they do makes a difference.

Structure is more than a series of organisational charts. The real question is what does the structure support? Does it centralise or decentralise decision making? If you want faster decision making the latter tends to speed up the process. Do structures allow people at all levels to influence and have input into situations, particularly those that directly affect them? Do the structures empower or disempower people?

When systems are mentioned in organisations most people think about financial, operating or IT systems. Without people in an organisation, it doesn’t exist so spare a thought for the people systems. Do your appraisal systems ensure people are assessed based on merit and real performance? Is selection based on open and objective criteria or is it politically or subjectively based? Is education and training planned, timed and organised to ensure people receive it when it is needed?

One of the most neglected areas by leaders in organisations yet one of the most essential to producing the products and services that are the life blood of any company is job design. The way jobs are designed requires focus to ensure people have the freedom and authority required to carry out their job and they understand how the work they do contributes to the achievement of overall goals for the company. Jobs designed correctly have feedback mechanisms built in so instead of waiting for a leader to give feedback the team member is able to assess for themselves whether or not they are meeting required standards and expectations.   They are enabled to take appropriate action to correct situations without necessarily being prompted by their leader.

The final area is communication. The obvious are downward and upward communication. We have seen some outstanding examples in our work where two way communication looks like a super highway allowing communication to occur with speed and accuracy while at other times communication looks like a bush track where not much gets through without a great deal of effort. The less obvious is communication across the organisation where all parts of the business can collaborate as needed to ensure relevant information and learning is shared and understood for the benefit of all team members.

Each of these five areas will have required direct input from individual leaders at the time they are formulated yet once in place they can no longer be driven and controlled by one leader alone. They can only be influenced. Take the time to examine whether these areas are supporting or inhibiting you from achieving your organisation’s goals.

Vivente Australia enables leaders and managers develop the bond between people and performance, creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its best.