Four ways Leaders directly impact culture

Home / blog / Four ways Leaders directly impact culture

Culture is a “buzz word “often quoted from the growing list of clichéd leadership terminology used in today’s business environment. In reality, when taken seriously, culture is regularly the difference between average and high performing organisations. Creating and encouraging the most appropriate organisational culture is one of the most important tasks for any leadership group to address.

For cultures to be effective, they rely on the whole organisation, however, leaders have the single biggest impact on any organisation’s culture. That impact can be direct or indirect, both are important. In this blog I will share the ways leaders directly impact culture and next week I will look at the indirect impact leaders have on culture.

Leaders have a direct impact in a number of ways. Every day as a leader you have to make decisions, take action in response to a range of issues and challenges. Your personal style and behaviour determines how you respond which in turn has a direct impact on your organisation’s culture.

We see so many leaders intent on completing the task not stopping stop long enough to think about how the action they are about to take, or the way they are about to behave, can impact others, in and outside of the organisation. When considering your impact there is the all too familiar ‘people walk what you as a leader walk’ however, we think it is more than that; many leaders fail to understand that if their style and behaviour is consistently abrupt, blunt, controlling, aggressive, fault finding, then generally we observe those who report to such leaders find the easiest way to cope is to simply go along, do what’s required or find ways of avoiding such situations completely.  The outcomes are cultures that lack innovation and creativity, are reactive, conforming and compliant.

It is important to consider the types of leadership strategies and approaches you use. Collaboration, consultation, and taking a democratic approach are all traits associated with effective leaders. However, effective leaders also know that it is impossible for them to operate this way all the time because there are occasions, because of the prevailing pressures, where they must be directive and controlling which means that decisions and the actions that follow will restrict or inhibit people from doing what they might want to under normal circumstances.

In constructive healthy cultures, leaders use collaboration, consulting, and democratic approaches in the majority of their decisions, with only the occasional use of restrictive or inhibitive decision making when necessary. Reverse that ratio and the result will be unhealthy, defensive cultures.

The common denominator for all leaders is to realise in all situations you have choice; choice in what behaviour you exhibit, how you choose to view a situation, the approach you choose to reach a decision and, most importantly, what impact you choose to have on your organisation’s culture. The choices you make as leaders will dictate the culture you create.


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.