Change Challenges Culture

Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

In a market experiencing greater uncertainty, complexity and competition, the prime directive for leaders is not to manage to the status quo, but to make things better – to lead strategy or cross-functional change initiatives that create value, improve competitive advantage, and strengthen business sustainability.

Leaders build and strengthen culture – and change challenges it.

That’s why these initiatives must be led from the top. They are strategic and complex, requiring focus, agility, and accountability. And they cannot succeed without the total commitment from leadership, and alignment with the company’s culture – its purpose, values, and expertise.

Every experience created, communication delivered, and action taken by the leader will either support or undermine the effort, while concurrently revealing the true nature and value of the company’s culture. So, mastering the ability to lead these initiatives may require leaders to refresh their skills through learning and practicing, planning what to do and what to say, and coaching and mentoring as the initiative progresses.

To this end, some of the proven best practices for leading these initiatives include:

  • Communicating with transparency to build the case for the initiative – why it’s necessary, what must be done, and what is the required outcome;
  • Remaining actively engaged to highlight the priority, secure progress, and ensure alignment between outcome and culture;
  • Facilitating healthy, productive dialogue and feedback among all stakeholders to identify the best way forward, enabling learning and commitment;
  • Establishing shared accountability for the initiative across the entire organization.

Change may challenge culture, but working together through a strategy or change initiative also creates the opportunity for leaders to demonstrate, refine and strengthen culture, which may be a company’s most sustainable competitive advantage.

By remaining engaged in these initiatives – to influence, inspire, advocate, mentor, coach, connect and appreciate – leaders build businesses and workplace cultures that endure. The business becomes more agile and productive. Meaningful participation in the initiatives gives employees a voice, and a chance to learn and grow, helping them discover how their culture, and their work, make a difference. This creates a sense of mastery, autonomy and fulfillment that deepens connection and community.

How is change challenging your culture?

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