Cultural Transformation Requires Strong Leadership!

Posted by Rick DeMarco on 12 March 2015

Tags: , ,

If you do a google search for “leadership books”, you’ll get 436 million hits!  And if you search for leadership books, you’ll get 130,000 hits alone.  There are more books written about effective leadership than probably about any other personal development topic.  And yet, why is there such a significant deficiency in effective leadership in our companies, our churches, and our families?  Why do so many perceived leaders disappoint families, businesses, colleagues, friends, and countries?

The answer lies in the definition of what constitutes “true” leadership.  It’s not about control or power or titles.  It’s about influence and behavior and leading by example.  And it’s not about ego or self-edification.  True leaders clearly define the values and principles that drive their behavior and their decision making and insure that those they lead are aligned with that foundation.  They inspire others and drive team alignment by sharing their vision, values, and objectives and understand that their role is not to be served, but to remove barriers and serve others so collectively, a group of people can achieve exceptional results. 

In a recent CEO report released by the Conference Board, human capital was identified as the number one challenge for CEO’s around the world, and employee engagement was further identified as a key priority and strategy to address that challenge. And successful employee engagement and team alignment require strong leadership skills.

Over the next year, we will be publishing a series of leadership and employee brand engagement tips that help define effective leadership and cultural transformation, not as a role or title, but as a behavior.  In today’s world, cultural transformation and change management are critical priorities for leaders.  And more than ever, organizations need strong and effective leaders to lead that transformation and inspire and engage others.

These tips will be framed around the belief that becoming an effective leader requires a commitment and some very specific actions framed by a process.  Now I’m not suggesting that being a great leader is as simple as following a 10 step program.  But I am suggesting that there are certain steps that have to be taken if a leader expects to create a winning culture.

  1. Know yourself: How can someone lead others and improve employee engagement if they are not aware of what drives and motivates them?
  2. Create the culture: A leader must define the values and principles that drive behavior and decision making.  Leading a cultural transformation requires a clear definition of the targeted culture.
  3. Develop a trusting environment: All relationships are based on the level of trust.  No trust….no relationship.
  4. Choose your accountability team: Everyone needs someone who challenges them to act and behave in alignment with their words and beliefs.
  5. Know the people you lead: No one can motivate anyone else.  You can only understand what it is that drives and inspires them and provide that.  That means you MUST truly know the people you lead if you are to create a culture of employee engagement and team alignment.
  6. Communicate vision, goals, and objectives clearly: It sounds obvious, but how can someone follow you if they aren’t clear on what you’re trying to accomplish?
  7. Anticipate fear, doubt, and stress: Effective leaders understand that everything will not always go smoothly and proactively plan a course of action when it doesn’t.
  8. Set Boundaries: Effective leaders set boundaries from two perspectives.  They know when to say yes and when to say no.  And they fully understand their non-negotiables.
  9. Stay focused and allow individuality: Distractions will occur, but leaders stay focused despite those distractions.  They also understand that if everyone thinks and acts alike, someone is not necessary.
  10. Measure and monitor results: This isn’t about touchy feely stuff.  It’s about getting results.  And if you’re not getting the results you want or need, review numbers 1 to 9 to determine if you have laid a foundation for success.

Check out our weekly blog as we unpack the elements of effective leadership and employee engagement that will drive a culture of team alignment. We invite your comments and questions and even disagreements as part of an ongoing dialogue.  Companies, families, and our religious institutions rise and fall on the strength of leadership.  Let’s go on this journey together as we explore leadership, cultural transformation and employee engagement from a behavior and influential/inspirational foundation.