Why you probably don’t know your organization culture

If you ever had a doubt about the impact of culture, just look at the Veteran’s Administration, General Motors, Target, or the many other current examples of behavior gone wrong. Culture is the set of beliefs that drive behavior–beliefs about the organization’s purpose, acceptable practices, and individual responsibilities among others. If you want to know your own culture, don’t bother looking at the posters in the lobby, or asking senior management–instead, look at how people behave. False information, the GM meeting head nods, and a mass exodus precisely at five o’clock are examples.

Culture can be shaped and changed, not only to prevent problems, but also to drive exceptional performance. The first step is to get a good understanding of what the current culture is deep in the organization.

What’s your succession plan?

I spoke last week at the New York Bankers Association Senior Management Conference on strengthening leadership pipelines.  Succession plans and leadership development are critically important in the banking industry where the loss of a CEO will often lead to the sale of a bank.  The need is no less important in other industries.  Developing a firm’s future leaders is the best way to make sure that there is strong continuity in management and culture.

How would your organization respond to a sudden CEO or executive loss?  Would the board have a plan and a process to follow?

What leaders can learn from a champion equestrian

I find it fascinating to watch excellent coaches and I saw a master at work over the weekend.  It was a horse eventing clinic run by champion British equestrian Lucinda Green–a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.  And what she told the clinic participants applies equally well to leaders of organizations.
As the participants on horseback gathered following an exercise, she said that whether an equestrian is in competition or in practice, the rider has only three primary things to focus on; the horse does the rest.  The three can be remembered by the acronym ELBOW.  E is for Engine — the power required at any given time is requested and maintained by the rider.  L is for Line — the rider chooses the line or direction the horse will go.  B is for Balance — keeping in proper balance to enable the horse to perform at its best safely.  OW is when you get one of the three wrong.
Focus the power of your organization on the right priorities, provide the direction you want it to go, and maintain the right balance of demand.  Then let your organization perform at its best.  That’s good advice.
© Bob Legge 2014  All rights reserved