All organizations must go through periods of cultural change in order to achieve the results they need to grow, compete, and win. This shift requires a team’s dedicated focus on accountability, consistency, and communication, all of which must be led from top-level management. Without the buy-in and action from the senior leadership team, the desired culture will fail.
There is a misconception that leaders who drive significant culture change must be bold by taking wild leaps at greatness and driving home concepts through grandiose inspirational speeches. That’s simply not true. They do, however, need to be honest and sincere in their efforts of change. With this comes a deliberate mastery of three critical leadership skills: leading change, responding well to feedback, and maintaining a facilitative communication style.
Culture change initiatives require following a leader-led model. Senior leaders must actively manage the process. They have to make it a top priority and disseminate to every person in the organization. This includes producing actionable items that are reported on consistently. Such items include:
- developing a cultural beliefs statement;
- communicating the case for change;
- establishing organizational accountability;
- and consistently ensuring alignment across the leadership team.
When leaders are not aligned with making a strong culture the priority, it’s evident on several levels. There’s a negative impact that permeates throughout the organization. Therefore, leading change requires active learning and practicing tools, planning what to do and say, and internal and external coaching. It’s an ongoing process that requires achieving set milestones to accomplish the big picture.
Responding Well to Feedback
The feedback that supports the desired cultural beliefs and outcomes of a team is critical for success. Some leaders are good at taking constructive criticism and others are not. Responding with an excuse or dismissing the feedback as irrelevant or incorrect will foster beliefs about that leader’s unwillingness to change. In times of culture transformation, leaders must be the first to change the way they think and act.
Feedback breeds a culture of transparency where everyone has the opportunity to speak up and ask questions or share concerns. Even if all ideas or comments aren’t realistic or accurate, a leader is responsible for making sure the team feels like their voices are being heard and actions are taken when necessary.
Facilitative Communication Style
Change is created through many internal and external environments. Leaders must spearhead organizational experiences that inspire ongoing collaboration and communication. Team building empowers people and holds them accountable for driving positive change forward. They should be able to identify the who, what, and when of achieving the goal. Then, work together to complete.
Change is a verb, which means action is necessary. Leaders must lead by example, respond to feedback, provide solutions, and promote healthy communication. These are all equally important when a company goes through a growth period. Although challenging, it is up to leadership to drive change, ensure alignment, and see it through. It doesn’t happen on its own, but it can have revolutionary effects on the bottom line when done right.