Why is Transforming Organizational Culture Important?

Culture is what makes strategy happen — so there needs to be a clear link between an organization’s culture and an organization’s strategy.

A culture reboot can equip your current culture to support more innovation and collaboration, remove barriers to success, and overcome culture-based challenges.

Here are steps to consider when transforming your organizational culture.

Identify the gaps between your current and required leadership culture.

Data about your workers and your business will allow you to drive more effective investments in your human capital. Predictive analytics can inform smart decisions about investing in your culture and in your workforce.

Start by setting priorities around your business challenges and opportunities that are identified by your executive team, from increasing customer satisfaction to improving worker productivity. Next, gather data, including business metrics related to those priorities and people data such as employee experience and engagement.

Analyze your priorities and data to identify the people factors that benefit or get in the way of your key business goals, and let that analysis inform your decisions to take action. With predictive analytics, you’re empowered to take evidence-based steps to strengthen your return on investment in leadership and talent development.

Too often, there’s a gap between an organization’s strategy and its execution. Culture may be the problem, as you may not have the culture you need to enact the business strategy. Research shows that superior-performing organizations display a clear connection between business strategy and leadership strategy.

There are certain elements to bring into focus when examining leadership strategy:

  • Know the critical drivers of organizational success, such as extending service offerings or acquiring new businesses. Also, pinpoint what is not essential to success and avoid strategic distraction.
  • Create a talent system that’s adequately stocked to meet the greater goals. Work toward talent sustainability, which requires a holistic look at your leadership pipeline and talent systems and metrics — from sourcing and recruiting to reward and recognition. Look to HR leaders to ensure that talent development is linked to leadership strategy.
  • Take your organizational design into account. Consider whether the current structures, systems, and processes facilitate the evolution of culture and leadership in support of business strategies.

A defining characteristic of executive teams at high-performing organizations is the collective ability to lead strategically. These senior executives pay attention to leadership strategy along with the business strategy to help the organization reach its full performance potential.

Step 3: Identify your organization’s leadership culture.

Leaders must understand the organization’s culture and recognize their responsibility in creating — or changing — it. Leadership culture is the way things get done in an organization, and it’s directly connected to leaders’ beliefs, both conscious and unconscious. But how do you know what kind of leadership culture you have — and if you have the culture required for the strategy you’ve set?

  • Decode your current leadership culture by assessing how leaders create shared direction, alignment, and commitment (DAC).
  • Determine the type of culture that you have, considering the way your leaders interact, make decisions, and show influence over others. Do you have an interdependent leadership culture, which is rooted in shared exploration and collaboration of otherwise independent leaders and groups? Or is your leadership culture independent, with influence and compromise and individual achievement paramount? Or, is it more dependent, with a focus only on conformity and compliance with people in authority at the top? Organizations that grow from having a dependent to independent to interdependent leadership culture become increasingly capable of creative action in the face of complexity.
  • Consider whether the current leadership culture is having a positive or negative impact on performance and whether it’s helping achieve the business strategies — or not.

If the culture isn’t helping the business strategy, leaders need to get serious about changing themselves — so they can change the culture. It’s crucial to note that executives have to do the change work first. Expect them to lead by engagement and example in the organization’s cultural transformation process, modeling the desired new behaviors before engaging other leaders in the same process.

This is crucial particularly among senior leaders and calls for a clarification of the organizational vision and priorities. Too often, organizations have focused on new skills and individual leader competencies in order to manage change. But executives should work to advance individual and collective leadership mindsets when transforming organizational culture.

Encourage bigger minds to keep up with quickly changing reality. New thinking and new ways of working together will allow organizations to keep up and thrive in the face of disruption.

If senior executives want to see organizational change, they, too, are required to change. Their commitment to personal change will help them take on the management challenges of change for a sustainable future. Senior leaders who move the needle toward organizational transformation also experience significant personal transformation.

How CCL Can Help

Senior executives will find that Leadership at the Peak is a program that helps them address the challenges of leadership at the top. Those challenges are far-reaching and complex, and it’s essential to handle them the right way.

Among other benefits, participants will get:

  • A clear understanding of their organizational impact;
  • Personalized leadership assessments and coaching;
  • Action plans for challenges and priorities;
  • Clarification of their organizational vision and improved communication skills;
  • Energy, fitness, and health guidance; and
  • Enhancement of executive image.

Best For: C-level and senior executives in the top 3 tiers of an organization, and those with more than 15 years of management experience and leadership responsibility for 500+ people.

Determine the business drivers that will guide long-term success.

Step 1: Envision a “future perfect” state.

This image will drive your leadership culture, so create a leadership strategy that helps leaders execute business priorities. Keep in mind that, to impact organizational performance, the entire organization needs to change, in addition to individual leaders.

To see new results in organizational performance, start to change the way work gets done. Engage the whole system in the development process as you work toward a future-perfect state for your leadership culture. Aim for the kind of culture you would have if business was hitting peak efficiency and meeting targets. Consider the leader behaviors and shared beliefs that would help you get there and implement them.

At the same time, motivate your leaders to support a culture of continuous improvement and to be open to training programs as well as taking risks in the name of innovation.

A well-executed organizational culture change takes time, and requires that you:

  • Determine willingness. Assess the current level of leadership culture and a look at the capability required by the business strategy.
  • Understand leaders’ readiness. Are senior executives able to commit to engage in the change process? Are they prepared to invest in collaboration?
  • Plan and frame the change. What are the beliefs and behaviors required to move the organization closer to an interdependent leadership culture?
  • Build capability. Senior leaders begin to socialize the new beliefs and practices out to the broader organization to build trust and ownership. They can build a critical mass and help the desired new culture spread for enterprise-wide change.

Don’t wait until your culture change initiative is completed in order to evaluate its impact. Since leadership culture change is about beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes, change doesn’t occur quickly or easily. Make learning integral to the change process by strategically collecting, analyzing, and using data along the way. Practice ongoing evaluation and plan to make adjustments as necessary.

This will help you clarify your goals and align with other stakeholders about what matters. Let these insights shift your organization’s beliefs and practices, guiding you toward long-lasting organizational change.

Ready to evaluate your initiative? Consider the big questions to ask, the necessary mindset shifts, what you need to measure, how and when to measure, and how you’ll use and apply these results.

How CCL Can Help

Partner with us for Organizational Leadership Culture Change, where we focus on connected, aligned leadership development to transform your organization’s leadership culture. With our analysis process, we can help you determine the culture that your organization’s strategy demands. Then we can help you develop the beliefs, behaviors, and practices to build a culture that can support your business strategy. We can also assist with getting key influencers to adopt new mindsets to help you scale your culture change enterprise-wide, as well as measuring progress.

Best For: Organizations that are disappointed with the results of their culture change initiatives, or that have recently shifted their strategy — because when the strategy changes, culture must change too.

Engage leaders at all levels.

Bring diverse teams together and move beyond one-size-fits-all talent development by evolving your approach to organizational culture change. Scale leadership development to promote collaboration, connection, and coordination rooted in common leadership language, vision, and behaviors. In this kind of agile workplace, employees throughout the organization hold each other accountable to engage, change, innovate, and move forward.

To scale, create a strategy at the outset. And make sure that, once it’s in place, the processes and talent are readily available to support the initiative. Be clear on the varying needs, like investments, at different levels when developing your leaders.

Consider the fact that you may need an external partner for assistance, after which you can engage your internal team.

Your efficient approach to scaling leadership development will help your organization rapidly execute its strategy and achieve its goals, generating revenue and innovation, and developing market agility.

Collaboration must span vertical, horizontal, stakeholder, demographic, and geographic boundaries. Leaders who reach beyond present boundaries can create innovative solutions and evolve to thrive in today’s interdependent, complex world. Know the types of boundaries:

  • Vertical boundaries cross level, rank, seniority, authority, and power.
  • Horizontal boundaries divide groups by areas of experience and expertise.
  • Stakeholder boundaries are varied, as organizations respond to shareholders, boards of directors, partners, etc.
  • Demographic boundaries exist between diverse groups, including gender, race, education, and ideology.
  • Geographic boundaries created by distance and different cultures, regions, and markets can impede collaboration.

Acknowledge these boundaries and reach beyond them. The benefits of boundary-spanning leadership include increased organizational agility to respond to a dynamic marketplace, advanced cross-organizational innovation processes, and flexible, cross-functional learning capabilities to solve problems and adapt to change.

How CCL Can Help

Access our Boundary-Spanning Workshop Kit to work on buffering, which defines boundaries to create safety; reflecting, to understand boundaries and foster respect; transforming, to cross-cut boundaries and enable reinvention, and more.

Best For: Internal HR, training and development professionals, business unit leaders, team leaders, and project leaders who want to increase collaboration, tear down silos, and mitigate turf wars on their teams.

The Big Picture

Organizational leadership culture change can be the key to achieving the goals within your business strategy.

Get started:

  • Identify the gaps between your current and required leadership culture
  • Align your investment choices in leadership development with your greater strategy
  • Work to evolve new mindsets
  • Envision your “future perfect” state
  • Plan out your culture change
  • Initiate an ongoing evaluation process
  • Work to scale the culture change by reaching leaders at lower levels
  • Empower all leaders to collaborate across boundaries

Make the right investments in talent and strategy, you’ll transform your organization’s culture. Get ready to meet your goals.

Want to talk through it with us?

Our team of experts is here to help you develop the solution that works best for you and your organization.