What is Leadership Culture: How to Introduce Critical Practices

Leadership culture should really just be understood as the framework in which you lead your team, and the ideologies and belief systems you want you and your team to conduct business with. The end goal should always be customer satisfaction, and harmony amidst the collective that produces the work.

Leadership Culture

While the work, actions, and ideologies of every employee can have a direct impact on the trajectory of an organization, it’s the leadership that has the most profound influence on its culture. Architecting a rich company culture is not an upper management endeavour, meaning, it’s not merely the leadership that cultivates this. To build an exceptional company culture, its leadership has to take into account employee engagement, the workplace environment, and the success felt by the company’s clients. But what is leadership culture?

While culture may seem like a buzzword these days, it’s a label as old as human existence. Culture encompasses the social norms and behavior that comprise a particular society. This would include belief systems, laws, customs, and knowledge systems. In the context of a company, leadership culture includes the way in which a company’s members interact with each other, the policies that govern their conduct, the rules and laws in which business is done within the company, espoused values, and a company’s overall objectives and goals.

Although there are variations, there are three main types of leadership culture:

Interdependent Leadership – This style of leadership culture operates under the assumption that collective activity and input is more beneficial to the successful operation of an organization that individualized leadership.

Dependent Leadership – This leadership culture looks to itself as the ultimate authority for leadership. There would be little to no input from employees, or anyone outside of upper management.

Independent Leadership – This leadership culture operates under the notion that a company’s culture relies on the expertise of the individual and their “heroic” actions.

Leadership culture determines how your company or organization functions. It’s the very foundation. It is fundamental that leaders have a thorough understanding of their own beliefs, how those beliefs shape the organization, and how their customers and clients will perceive their organization. If the leadership culture, business strategies and organization goals don’t align, there is little hope for successful progression.

When trying to determine what the leadership culture of your organization consider these three factors:

1. What is the Direction of Your Organization?

Depending on the type of leadership culture you have cultivated or are cultivating, determining your organization’s direction may be dependent on three approaches; your employees are solely dependent on you to steer the ship; you are influential but not solely directorial in determining the trajectory of the organization; and finally, you embark on an exploratory path that includes the input and consideration of the organization as a whole.

2. How Does the Culture Align with the Company’s Direction?

How do you organize the way in which work is done within your company or organization? Do the implemented processes integrate seamlessly into your company’s future plans? If at any time, these two major components are at odds with one another, it’s time for a redirect. Culture permeates absolutely everything. Your leadership culture should answer the hows and whys of production, and be backed by processes that are malleable.

3. Are Employees & Management Working for the Greater Good?

An organization’s success has a few metrics, most notably, the satisfaction of the customer or end user and how the organization interacts with its member community. Every member of the organization, in theory, should be conducting themselves in a manner that supports the collective. However, the most effective leadership culture is defined with mutually beneficial objectives.

This mutual commitment between employee and leadership comes about in three ways. Within independent cultures, leadership will examine the benefits to themselves, and how it will benefit the larger collective. In interdependent cultures, the greater collective is highly engaged to determine what the greater good actually looks like. And in independent leadership cultures, leadership will examine the benefits to the self, and then determine how that will benefit the greater collective.

Now that you’ve worked through the type of leadership culture that exists throughout your organization, how do you introduce critical practices that will help you facilitate and nurture that culture? Here are a few ways to implement those critical practices, while adhering to your leadership culture:

  • Develop your leadership mindset.
  • Encourage honest feedback from your team.
  • Check in with your team often on a one-on-one basis so every member feels heard.
  • Be an example when there are changes in the organization so your team feels comfortable and confident in making the shift.
  • Have clear, concise, but also flexible team goals so everyone knows what the expectations are.
  • Understand what your priorities are and get surgical about managing your time and efforts.

Leadership culture, as complex and as theoretical as it can become, should really just be understood as the framework in which you lead your team, and the ideologies and belief systems you want you and your team to conduct business with. The end goal should always be customer satisfaction, and harmony amidst the collective that produces the work.

GO TO ….

Visit the website of an important project I helped get off the ground: Life Coach Path. It’s an online educational resource for aspiring coaches to learn how to get their careers started in the coaching field.


Author: Kristie Santana

A committed coach with a keen eye for detail, Kristie Santana is one of the original members of the Life Coach Path team. As an educator and coaching advocate, Kristie has devoted the better part of 15 years to spreading the message and benefits of effective coaching. She is the founder of the National Coach Academy in New York City.

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