Changing an organization’s is probably one of the most difficult challenges for a leader. The consequences of poor leadership in this area are broad in severity; it can either be completely ineffectual (and thus a waste of valuable corporate resources) or destroy the morale and motivation of the workforce. A recent example are the changes that Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, is making to create a more disciplined organization.
I feel that the only effective way to change culture in a corporation is through leadership through example. The CEO must demonstrate the behavioral changes that he or she wants to improve or halt in the organization. Furthermore, the leader must be overt with these new behaviors. The As employees witness their leaders acting out the new behaviors, they will be motivated to embed them into their jobs. key to implementing these changes is emulation through the company. Employees can only emulate what they are able to observe, so leaders must show the behaviors in the view of their employees.
I learned from the article, “Bosses’ small gestures send big signals” by Lubin that employees inherit behaviors (and opinions) from their leaders. In most cases, employees are looking to climb the corporate ladder and are seeking guidance from their leaders on how to do so. The article provided a number of examples of employees emulating their leaders, even regarding the types of clothing worn in the office. The article also explained that many leaders were completely clueless that their teams were so closely following their words and actions. Leaders must become aware of this and use it to their advantage.
I was in the previously mentioned category of the clueless leader. Although I lead a team of only four people, I need to consider what behaviors I want to encourage in our work. I pondered this for a moment and brainstormed some “task-oriented” behaviors; project delivery, cost-control, schedule, concise communication, on-time reporting, etc.. Then I paused and considered the other side of the leadership matrix; the ” people-oriented” behaviors. On top of those behaviors, I want my team to be open, honest, trusting, motivated, and responsible.
I then paused one more time and asked myself, ” do I live these behaviors?”. Sadly, I realized that the answer was, “not really”. Now, I understand that I can only expect these behaviors from my team when I feel confident that I am living them myself. Clearly, I will be improving on these areas myself.
I encourage all my classmates and colleagues to spend a few moments pondering this question. Scorecards and bonuses work great for improving revenue and reducing costs, but I feel that they are poor tools for implementing culture change. That can only be accomplished with authentic leadership.