Leaders, prepare to hear a few hard truths…
Cultivating company culture requires attention and intention—two things that don’t happen organically or overnight. In the modern work environment, it’s not enough to have a set of company core values, no matter how strong they are. And it’s not enough to appoint smart people to leadership positions; even the best leaders need structure and standards.
While it’s challenging and commendable for organizations to have core values and great leaders in place—neither of those feats will be effective in cultivating a desired company culture unless they are connected at the root.
Your company’s core values must be the basis of your leaders’ behaviors—and your leaders must be enthusiastic ambassadors and advocates of the core values; even better, if they can help create them.
In our last blog, we discussed the first two pillars of Culture Performance Management™ (CPM™)—selecting your values system and defining the correlating leadership behaviors. Today, we’re focused on pillar three: connecting the values to leadership engagement and decision-making.
The Connection Between Leadership and Workplace Culture
Most leaders who have taken the time to select a values system and define the core values with standards of engagement, are serious about cultivating or improving their workplace culture.
But sharing the values and urging leaders to remember them is as far as many organizations go. While the right intent is there, this approach fails to fully connect company culture and leadership to drive the behavioral change needed to cultivate your desired company culture. Here’s a few reasons why…
Providing leaders, even team members, with core values isn’t enough. One person’s interpretation of a core value might be completely different from somebody else’s within the organization. This leads to a disparate culture built on individual notions and beliefs, instead of the company’s culture vision.
Beyond that, being proactive about identifying opportunities to exemplify the core values to the rest of the team is crucial to the success of any culture-building effort. You might be thinking—shouldn’t we exemplify them all the time? You’re right. But how many times have you thought about doing something only to get distracted? Planning for “Cultural Connection” moments, per the CPM™ methodology, allows leaders to show up to meetings with specific awareness and intention.
For these reasons, when companies fail to intentionally and systematically connect their organizational culture with leadership behaviors, they fall short of cultivating their desired company culture and leadership team—much less a workplace that drives employee engagement and business performance.
Fortunately, rapid shifts to the modern workplace and workforce are causing organizations to take a hard look at their workplace culture and either start or systemize efforts with solutions like CPM™. Before we dive deeper into how Cultural Connection mapping bridges leadership and workplace culture, let’s first look at the attributes of effective business leaders.
Effective Leadership Skills and Organizational Behavior
Leaders set the cultural tone in an organization.
Your leaders are the ones who preserve and pass along the company’s culture. They demonstrate how to behave and interact in accordance with the organization’s values, thus perpetuating “social learning” with employees as the standard for how they should behave and interact with one another.
Words, actions, and body language all play a role in adding or detracting from the desired company culture and leadership dynamic. With employee engagement scores at historic lows—we need to look at our leaders’ skillsets and behaviors. What makes for effective and ineffective leadership?
According to McKinsey1, these four leadership behaviors account for 89% of leadership effectiveness:
- Being supportive
- Operating with strong results orientation
- Seeking different perspectives
- Solving problems effectively
From a culture building perspective, these six leadership skills are mission-critical to perpetuating an authentic company culture leading to enhanced employee engagement and business performance.
- Walk the talk – their behaviors and interactions are aligned with the company’s values
- Can explain the worth that the company’s core values have on the business
- Lives and breathes the company’s values – never needs to be reminded of them
- References the values authentically, not just when it’s convenient
- Genuinely embodies the company’s value statements; they’re aligned with their personal values
- Actively monitors, measures, and manages employee behavior to quickly address issues
On the contrary, leaders who don’t exhibit these skills, might be creating a fraudulent culture.
How do your leaders stack up? Ineffective leadership is rampant in corporate America today, with only 28% of executives understanding their company’s culture2 and 42% of employees believing that their leadership doesn’t contribute to positive company culture.3 As a result, more companies are turning to proven solutions, like CPM™. This methodology provides a proven framework for defining, implementing, measuring, and improving company culture—including through Cultural Connections.
Cultural Connections: What Are They and Why Are They Important?
Cultural Connections happen throughout the course of a workday whether you’re aware of them or not. The difference is, when you’re aware they’re happening, you can be intentional about your leadership effectiveness. When you’re not aware, you risk derailing from the company’s core values and desired company culture. So, what are Cultural Connections?
Cultural Connections underpin pillar three of the CPM™ methodology. Cultural Connections are where and when defined leadership behaviors must be practiced during the daily execution of work. These connections happen anytime a leader is engaging with team members, making business decisions, or interacting with customers.
While many of these moments are sporadic, some are predictable. Morning meetings, daily walkthroughs, employee one-on-ones, company events, and so forth. Identifying these anticipated and desired connection points is known as Connection Mapping. This expert-facilitated process pinpoints opportunities throughout the workday to exhibit the core values and explores where there may be breakdowns in communication that influence a leader’s ability to effectively engage, interact, and make decisions for the business. During Connection Mapping, you want to think about questions like:
- Do you feel confident engaging and interacting with your team? What challenges come up?
- What factors positively influence your team interactions? What negatively influences them?
- Where do critical engagements happen between stakeholders?
During these sessions, we uncover variables that influence how your leadership drives culture through communication and engagement during the execution of work. You can liken this process to having your car serviced. If you hear your tire squeaking, you can assume it’s because you need new brakes. But the reason you get it diagnosed first is to pinpoint the problem to determine the right solution. Then, you’ll assess if the problem’s been fixed or not. But the first step is always to find the connection point.
This is what Cultural Connections and Connection Mapping is all about—bringing awareness and intention to specific moments throughout the day that offer an opportunity to exemplify your core values and perpetuate your company’s culture.
Scaling the Synergy Between Leadership and Workplace Culture
We warned you—building culture and strategic leadership isn’t easy. It doesn’t happen organically or overnight. Instead, it requires time, thought, systems, and often, expert facilitation to get to the root of cultural barriers or detractors. This can mean tough conversations and facing hard truths about leaders within your organization who may or may not be walking the talk.
CPM™ takes any thrashing or guesswork out of the process, with a proven methodology and software for defining, implementing, measuring, and improving your company culture and leadership. While these seven pillars comprise the methodology, CPM™ software makes it easy to maintain and scale.
- Pillar 1: Select the values system
- Pillar 2: Define the leadership behaviors
- Pillar 3: Connect the values to engagement and decision-making
- Pillar 4: Learn through on-demand development
- Pillar 5: Practice with real-time execution
- Pillar 6: Refine for continuous improvement
- Pillar 7: Measure culture performance
Right in the software, you can choose your core values and their correlated leadership behaviors—and schedule your leaders identified Cultural Connections. Prior to a scheduled interaction, leaders are prompted to carry out lessons and behaviors exemplifying the core values. Reminders right before a Cultural Connection build cultural consciousness, helping leaders create the habit of bringing awareness and intention to the company’s culture and values prior to engaging, interacting, and making decisions.
Need Help Building Cultural Leadership in Your Organization?
We can help. Learn more about the Culture Performance Management™ system today and find a culture package that’s right your business.
Remember, core values on their own aren’t enough—nor are great leaders. Connection is key, followed by continuous learning, practice, improvement, and measurement.