People often refer to culture as the only element driving performance in people.  Ultimately this is true although there is a bigger picture to look at. In my opinion it is the system that drives performance, including the people you recruit as part of this system.

It’s important to recognise that leaders have a number of roles to play.  In the traditional context of leadership and culture they act as role models for behaviour in terms of demonstrating what is and is not acceptable. This aspect of leadership attracts the greatest attention as it is the most personal element of leadership that we easily connect with.  However, there are many effective leaders who are not always the most inspiring people.  Importance lies with a leaders behaviour as they build trust with their staff, investors, and customers through their character, competence, and their response to threat.

Leaders also play the role of an architect by designing their team or organisation to be high performing.  How they communicate vision and values, build ownership around strategy, set key performance indicators, design roles and organisation structures to promote accountability, who they recruit, how they design systems and processes to execute work, and so forth.

It’s quite common to see leaders demonstrate very constructive behaviours but have no reflection of this performance throughout the culture. The leader has not made the link between organisational design and high performance.

As a leader, if you are committed to supporting your team in reaching its potential then it is no secret that you must invest time into your own personal leadership in terms of how you build trust and confidence with your team, customers and stakeholders. You also need to be an architect and builder looking at the design and implementation of your organisations systems.

For most leaders it is difficult to be good at all things.  So if Organisation Design is not your background, then surround yourself with people who you trust and have a good understanding of these systems.