Contrary to Conventional Wisdom, Cultures Can Be Transformed

Senior leadership teams can and do evolve new mindsets. Individuals, teams, and entire organizations adapt, grow, and prepare for future challenges. They learn to change what they do and how they do it. As a result, they have grown “bigger minds for solving bigger problems.”

Organizations seeking to adapt during turbulent times — like now — cannot force change through purely technical approaches such as restructuring and reengineering. They need a new kind of leadership capability to reframe dilemmas, reinterpret options, and reform operations — and to do so continuously.

But organizational culture change is not for the faint of heart or the quick-change artist. Serious change demands serious people. Are you up for it?

A CCL study found that the 4 most important skills/capabilities needed by organizations in the future—leading people, strategic planning, inspiring commitment, and managing change—are among the weakest competencies for today’s individual leaders:

4-most-impt-skills - FB

At the same time, the nature of effective leadership is changing. CCL’s changing nature of leadership research showed that approaches focusing on flexibility, collaboration, crossing boundaries, and collective leadership are increasingly more important than the basics of making the numbers.

These findings suggest that organizations should continue to seek more of a balance between developing leaders through individual competencies and fostering the collective capabilities of teams, groups, networks, and organizational leadership.

The common thread among these studies is a powerful one: choosing the right leadership culture is the difference between success and failure.

As companies face change, they need to invest intentionally in a leadership culture that will match the unfolding challenge. The beliefs that drive leadership behaviors need to align with the operational business strategy.

The goal of culture-change work is to purposefully and actively build capability for new ways of working.

Do you have the leadership capacity and culture needed to succeed? Where are the individual and collective gaps?

Whatever you do, don’t pawn the culture work on someone else. Don’t give it to HR. No one else can create change for the executive team. No proxy can carry the senior team’s responsibility.

Rather than dismissing culture work as “soft stuff,” many executives now view it as the high-priority, hard stuff — changing whole beliefs systems so that organizations can survive.

Are you ready for the new hard work?

Additional Contributing Author:

Gary B. Rhodes

In addition to working as a consultant for Leading Edge Solutions, Inc., Gary is a Senior Fellow Emeritus and adjunct faculty member with the Center for Creative Leadership. In his continuing work with CCL, he is concentrating on action research focused on leading change and leadership culture transformation. Gary has worked with hundreds of leaders and organizations around the world in a wide variety of sectors. He was also a tenured professor of social administration and public policy at the University of Louisville. Rhodes holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from UCLA and an interdisciplinary master of philosophy in social science and social policy from the University of Michigan. He is co-author of Transforming Your Leadership Culture and Competent Supervision: Making Imaginative Judgments.

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