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The crucial role of leadership in shaping company culture

In goodmorning bsn! door Business School Nederland

Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping company culture within an organisation. Leaders profoundly impact company ethos and operational integrity, affecting every aspect of corporate life. Uchechi Agwu, founder and Managing Consultant of Culture Keepers Consulting Limited, presented this insightful topic at our weekly Goodmorning BSN! webinar. Leadership in shaping company culture is significant through the relationships leaders build with their teams.

Leadership’s influence on company culture

A compelling narrative illustrates this point vividly: In a well-structured yet ethically challenged organisation, a results-driven leader engaged in unethical practices to achieve targets. Despite the company’s emphasis on policies and procedures, this leader’s actions, such as manipulating transaction approvals and misleading clients, were rewarded with promotions and accolades. In contrast, a leader who adhered to ethical practices and transparency faced penalties and was sidelined. This story underscores a crucial lesson: the ethical stance and actions of leaders define and dictate the operational norms within a company.

The importance of servant leadership

The concept of ‘servant leadership’ is essential in this context. This leadership style prioritises the well-being and development of teams over personal gains, fostering a collaborative and supportive work environment. This approach enhances employee engagement and productivity, standing in stark contrast to traditional top-down leadership models that often stifle creativity and initiative.

Leaders’ actions will always speak louder than words. Their beliefs, assumptions, perceptions, and attitudes shape the organisation’s culture.

Servant leadership vs. traditional leadership

Marcel delineates the stark contrasts between traditional and servant leadership. Traditional leadership often operates on a top-down approach where commands flow downwards from the hierarchy. In contrast, servant leadership adopts a bottom-up approach, heavily relying on team input to shape strategic goals, thereby creating a more inclusive and adaptable organisational culture.

Cultural alignment and leadership

Understanding the intricacies of leadership in shaping company culture and ‘cultural alignment’ within organisations is crucial. True leadership transcends mere adherence to policy by embedding ethical practices and values deeply into corporate culture. This integration is vital for maintaining organisational integrity and effectively navigating the ever-changing business landscape.

Culture is more than just a set of policies or a list of values displayed on office walls. It encompasses the deep-seated beliefs, behaviors, and attitudes of everyone within the organisation. This deep-rooted nature of culture means that it cannot be easily changed overnight. Only 15% of organisations succeed in transforming their cultures, highlighting the challenges involved. Effective leadership is essential in this process, requiring a commitment to living and enforcing the organisation’s values consistently.

Aligning leadership actions with organisational values

Another critical aspect of shaping company culture is the alignment of leadership actions with organisational values. Leaders must model the behaviors they wish to see in their employees. This alignment ensures that all systems within the organisation push employees in the same direction, creating a cohesive and unified approach to achieving business goals.

Furthermore, the recruitment process plays a significant role in maintaining cultural alignment. It is crucial to recruit individuals who not only possess the necessary skills but also align with the organisation’s values and culture. Bringing in individuals who do not share these values can lead to cultural misalignment, which can undermine the organisation’s integrity and performance.

Ethics and integrity in leadership

Ethics in leadership extend beyond mere compliance with policies; it involves a deeper commitment to integrity and transparency. Leaders must be role models, demonstrating the organisation’s core values in their actions and decisions. This ethical foundation is crucial for building trust and credibility within the organisation, which in turn fosters a positive and productive work environment.

Addressing cultural misalignment

Addressing the challenges of cultural misalignment requires a comprehensive approach. Leaders must be vigilant in rewarding ethical behavior and disciplining unethical actions. They must also ensure that their talent practices, including recruitment and development, support the organisation’s cultural goals.

The essence of impactful leadership lies in its ability to mold and uphold a culture that resonates with transparency, integrity, and collective growth. Embracing these principles is indispensable for any leader aiming to foster a thriving organisational culture, especially in the complexities of modern business practices.

By prioritising ethical leadership, servant leadership, and cultural alignment, leaders can create a robust and dynamic organisational culture that drives success and fosters an environment where all employees can thrive.

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