I was working with a leadership team last month, working through where they are at with their culture. It was a challenging and robust discussion working through their culture, what it means and why they needed to understand how critical culture was to their future success.
The challenge lay in getting the leadership team to also acknowledge that they were contributing to a culture that was not delivering high performance thereby not helping them deliver on their new strategy. People do what they see leaders do and the culture was not going to change until they also changed.
To reinforce this point, I asked them two simple questions. The first one was asking them was whether they wanted change. They were unanimous that they all wanted change. I then asked them, in order to affect the change – who is prepared to change? The silence was deafening.
For me, this is the essence of why a lot of leadership teams struggle to shift their cultures to where they would like to. They believe it is for everyone else rather than looking in the mirror and asking tough questions around how they can improve. This one thing will drive the change from the top necessary to build a great culture. However, this will only occur when there is a commitment to change from each and every leader in an organisation.
“Be the change you want to see” is a great quote from Mahatma Gandhi. It sums up well how change must start with individual leaders at all levels. Before you think about and commit to change, you need to sign up first to the change you need to make that will have ripples throughout the organisation.