Korn Ferry recently released a global study that found “culture is the lifeblood of an organization”. Culture is the expectations and assumptions of values that a person has for the organization. I am reminded of what my husband, a former Marine, says about the Corps. He says the Corps takes a recruit’s head, empties it, and stomps in valor, loyalty, and patriotism. The Corps reinforces it with training, leadership, and discipline. For most Marines that is a lifetime culture. If only it were that easy in the real world.
Leadership is the defining quality of shaping culture. In the below article, Arvinder Dhesi, a Hay Group (Division of Korn Ferry) senior client partner states, “we believe that talent, leadership and culture are intrinsically linked, and they are critical for strategic execution”. To create a cultural foundation, Korn Ferry proposes four (4) pillars of learning for their leadership development programs.
- Context is critical: Development work to support an existing or desired new culture must be connected to an organization’s current issues and strategies. Thus, stressing the goals, mission, and strategies are necessary.
- Develop the whole person: Maximizing a person’s strengths and motivations, and matching them to the organizations goals and needs, are more likely to align the person’s values, beliefs, and behaviors to the culture.
- Treat leadership development as a journey: While the authors stress that an employee shoud have a variety of work experiences to thrive, I might add that this step means performance reviews, personal goal setting, and succession planning are crucial to this pillar.
- Service promotes purpose: I believe this is the most important pillar for the nonprofit world. Most nonprofits claim a powerful purpose that employees can embrace. Keeping this mission, and the values it represents, always in the forefront, succeeds in strengthening the employees’ motivations to keep the culture healthy and thriving.
I believe that culture as an entity is under duress. There is so much divisiveness that surrounds us – liberal vs. conservative, globalism vs. nationalism – that it becomes crucial for an organization to stress and remain loyal to its mission and strategies. This allows an employee to understand if he/she can faithfully embrace the culture and perform successfully.
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 BoardSource, Smart Briefs, “CEO’s Rank Culture as #1 Priority for Success”, Michelle M. Smith, CPIM, CRP, January 16, 2017
Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org