Corporate culture is a funny thing. Most executives get excited talking about how their culture is so special...unique...even one of a kind! Wow! That's a pretty bold statement don't you think?
As an HR executive I've not only said those words, I've heard many leaders over the years try to explain why their particular culture is different. It's kind of sad, really. The bombastic proclamations about being world-class often fall short when the data is revealed.
One of the most effective ways to understand if an organization's leadership culture is special is to ask a series of fundamental questions. The answers shed light on whether or not the rhetoric matches the truth.
A word of caution here...you may feel uncomfortable as you answer these questions in your head. If so, your culture is not even close to what you've been trying to sell to your leaders, employees, customers...and yourself.
1. Do leaders leave your organization because you've developed them into world-class talent and they have amazing new opportunities?
2. Do you commit to an approach that treats women and under represented people equally with respect to pay, titles, and other leadership incentives?
3. If you reviewed the data on how senior leaders transition out of your organization would it reveal a pattern of termination after termination?
4. When challenging issues arise does the leadership team rush to meet together because they rely on each other for support; or, is it a save-yourself-culture that focuses on attacking one another?
How do you feel now?
I would submit that only the most elite leaders have the courage to answer honestly, and then take the bold steps necessary to correct the areas that need to be addressed.
Most executives simply will not make bold decisions...they will not take dramatic steps to move their organizations forward...and sadly, will punish those that step up and actually lead.
Why is it that so many talented leaders are unwilling to lead once they are in the most influential roles of their professional lives?
How About You
For those of us that actually want to believe in world class corporate cultures, the double-talk and weak leadership we experience feels like a stab in the back. I'm far from perfect, but the only leaders I will ever work for again are the ones that are unafraid to make bold decisions and stand up for what is right.
They are the leaders that matter.
That is the reason I work where I do.
That is why I will never stop writing about making leaders better.
Leaders make all the difference. Look in the mirror. Are you a real leader?
I'd love to hear from you.