I have watched many corporations tumble due to the communication and character of their leaders. Why is it that just a few people can have such a big impact on the culture of an organization?
In order to understand that we have to go back and look at what leaders are wanting to have people do and how they communicate that. I have watched organizations create elaborate training and discussions on the values they wish to teach within the organization. The belief is that if people understand the values they will be able to demonstrate them in the office.
Houston, there is a problem here! Values are not taught, they are modeled.
Therefore, as a leader, you need to know the values and principles you want people aligned with and then assess whether those values and principles are being modeled by all of your management. If they are not, you have problems. Principals and values either are or are not, there are no exceptions.
Now this brings us back to the original question about the communication in the impact on the corporate culture. I absolutely believe your communication as a leader has a huge impact on your corporate culture. The way you communicate sends clear messages to the entire organization as to the values and principles that you hold in high regard and the premises you use to make decisions. If your critical thinking is out of whack or you are continually waffling on key decisions, you are sending messages to the organization about the values you expect them to model. You will find there is a huge disconnect between what you want to see them do and the job performance you actually get from them.
We have found that by just taking the senior management team and showing them how to use Outcome Thinking® in order to communicate with candor, clarity and without judgment they are able to present on new initiatives, determined clear principles, set firm consequences, be fair and just negotiators, and raise their critical thinking by determining the root premises rather than symptom premises.
Let me give you an example of how a leader's communication can impact a corporate culture. This company eight years ago had 150 employees and was doing 500 million in volume. Their goal was to grow to a billion in revenue. The new CEO they brought in met with all employees gather there are thoughts and ideas. The employees were ecstatic thinking "finally management is going to listen to us." What he did instead was talk behind people's backs, told other managers what he thought were wrong with the decisions their peers made, worked solo, redid people slides and presentations, and publicly blamed people. In the span of one year the company went from a very family-oriented atmosphere to a fearful atmosphere of finger-pointing and blame. They lost a vast majority of their employees and three quarters of their sales volume. It is now eight years later and they're finally reached 500 million in sales again.
That one CEO cost the company eight years of business and revenue. That's devastating!
How do you know what impact you do have on the corporate culture? Listen to what people say in the break rooms. Do they have clarity on the five year vision? Do they say the company plays favorites? Do they show that they feel you value them? Can they quickly say how they fit in to the corporate picture?
If you do not see the behavior in employees that you want, you most likely have a corporate culture that needs to be adjusted to fit your values and principles.
Author: Anne Warfield