Culture Drives Performance

Bob Schultek Author of
The Gauntlet

Increasingly, the discussions I’m having with leaders focus on how to better leverage their culture to improve performance.

We’ve experienced more change in the past few years than we’ve ever seen before. The work to be done is evolving, it’s different; so, the way we get it done must be different.

Culture is how a business gets things done. It defines who you are as a company and what you believe. While your purpose or mission, values, and vision statements may strive to clarify it, culture also includes all of the unwritten rules that everyone understands, but have not been documented.

Culture enables the effectiveness of your policies, plans, structures, and methods. It’s what facilitates strategy execution. It’s what motivates your employees to place shared interest above self-interest. There can be no common goals without the common ground of culture.

Extensive research reveals that 75% of senior leaders cite culture as being “extremely important” to business performance, but less than 35% claim that their business strategy is aligned with their culture. The conclusion of this research proposes that, “while elusive to define and evaluate, culture is the most underrated success factor in business.” In fact, one study asserts that 83% of acquisitions fail to increase value as projected, identifying culture misalignment as the primary root cause of acquisition failure.

Leaders create and shape culture. By their words and actions, they model the mindset, values and behaviors that characterize the culture of their business. They ensure that the right structures are in place to support these preferred behaviors, providing the boundaries that keep everyone moving forward, and the consistency for how employees are recognized and rewarded. Leaders share stories that nurture their culture in action, and validate the impact of culture on strategy and progress, to embed their culture in everyone’s hearts and minds.

And by doing so, these leaders demonstrate the authenticity that builds trust, cultivating a deeply-felt and shared culture that empowers people to collaborate in challenging the status quo, and to productively convert conflicting ideas into the collective commitment that improves performance.

How are you nurturing and leveraging the culture of your business?

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