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Guest Blogger

by Gordon Tredgold

Very rarely during my career did I hear leaders talk about the Culture. Or if they did, they complained that we had the wrong Culture, rather than talk or plan for how we could change it. I think that many leaders see the Culture as something that takes too long to impact or possibly even someone else’s job, like HR rather than their job.

But great leaders know that Culture is critical and needs to be one of the top priorities given the benefits that it can deliver.

Strategy versus Culture

First, as Peter Drucker says, Culture eats strategy for breakfast, so if you want to deliver your strategy, you need to ensure you have the right Culture in place. That means you need to understand your current Culture, understand whether it’s aligned with your strategy or not, and, if not, what you need to do to adjust it.

Having the right Culture in place will not only help you deliver your strategy, but it will also help deliver it in the shortest time possible, potentially even exceeding your desired outcomes.

Culture Extends Your Influence

Once you understand what Culture is, you will know why it’s important, and it should climb to the top of your priorities. My favorite definition of Culture, and the one that I think is most insightful, is that Culture is what guides people when there is no one there to lead them. So when we ignore Culture, we overlook the opportunity to influence people’s actions in our absence.

Whereas when we focus on defining the right Culture and work to embed it in our organizations, it helps to ensure that people will do the right thing, which helps to extend our influence and impact.

Culture Helps Define Your Legacy 

Delivering great results is always good for our reputations, but these can often be short-lived. Whereas when we help change the Culture and set it on the right path, ensuring alignment with the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Strategy, the impact will be felt in both the organization’s short, medium, and long-term results.

When I worked for Henkel, CEO Kasper Rorstadt set out to deliver a step-change in operational performance, boosting profitability by 40% in three years.

Still, to do that, he needed to change the organization’s Culture, change its DNA, making it more competitive, more profit-focused, which he did, and the company is still seeing the benefits of this change several years after his departure.

His real legacy is not just hitting the bold target that he set, but seeing the company continues in that direction even after his departure.

This is why Culture needs to be at the top of every leader’s agenda because it helps deliver results, makes them sustainable and repeatable and creates a legacy that will highlight the difference between good leadership and great leadership.

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