If “leadership culture” sounds like one of those buzzwords that have recently sprung up in the business world, think again. It is an important concept that has a big impact on how work gets done at the management level. It is so important, in fact, that a poor leadership culture can easily result in the downfall of a business. Also, leadership culture should not be confused with the overall company culture, though they are often related. Let’s take a deep dive into the concept of leadership culture and what it can mean for your company.
What Is It?
The leadership culture at any company indicates the style with which leaders and managers operate. These norms are tied to the team structure and the agility the company has when it comes to major business development decisions. Are people in leadership operating in silos, with little cross-cooperation, or are they encouraged to seek input from related teams? Are leaders trusted to make their own decisions, or does a directive have to come from corporate headquarters? Some leadership cultures are centered on traditional boundaries, in which innovation is cumbersome and slow. Other companies focus on agility, and their leaders are prepared to move quickly as the marketplace changes. Regardless which approach a business takes, the leadership culture should reflect the values of the company.
Why Is It Important?
Although the leadership culture of a business or organization is more of an unspoken understanding more than a written policy, it is important all employees understand the company stance. Everyone should be working with the same set of assumptions and working toward the common goal, not derailing efforts through distraction or bottlenecks. Both leaders and employees alike must know whether they will have strong role models to follow or have the ability to receive training and improve their own leadership skills. This option to better oneself leads not only to improved staff retention but also to improved confidence when collaborating on team efforts. Companies with a leadership culture that encourage cooperation and innovation are better suited to pivot based on current marketplace conditions. In turn, this proactive approach can affect every aspect of the business’s customer-facing operations.
How Does It Get Started?
Establishing guidelines for leadership is similar to creating those for a company culture. You can start with the mission statement or values statement for the organization. Does it indicate the company wants to innovate in the marketplace? Does it mention supporting the success of employees as well as finding financial success? If so, workers must be empowered to develop leaderships skills, and managers should allow standout employees to become leaders. Again, not all good employees have leadership potential. Executives should be selective about building the best leadership team. They must avoid anyone who distracts workers from the mission statement or seeks to stall forward progress on business development.
More importantly, establishing a strong leadership culture will not happen overnight. There will need to be tweaking and adjustments throughout the process until all employees understand they have solid opportunities. Managers should always be looking for training options to develop new leaders. Mentorships are another great tool as well. The focus should be on supporting a positive and progressive leadership culture, never undermining the effort toward business success for everyone on the staff.
The concept of leadership culture can be a bit nebulous because it is more of an understanding of norms than it is an explicit policy. But workers in any company setting can feel more empowered to achieve success if they know that their employer values leadership and strives to encourage it wherever it can. This benefit is why it behooves all businesses to establish a strong leadership culture.