How to Build a Strong Leadership Culture

Whether intentional or not, your company has a leadership culture—and your employees, customers, and investors can see it. It’s one of several subcultures that make up your business, but its impact is broader and deeper than most.

What exactly is leadership culture?

Leadership culture is how your leaders collectively shape and influence your organization. It’s determined by the intention, behavior, and tactics of all the leaders in your organization. Together, these intentions, behaviors, and tactics have a ripple effect that sets the entire business tone.

“Through the example they set, leaders shape the culture in their words and actions every day.”
— Deloitte

Just consider for a moment how the everyday behavior of your leaders impacts:

  • The employee experience
  • Team productivity
  • The quality of business decisions
  • The customer experience

Given their influence, it’s clear how a strong leadership culture can positively affect business outcomes. That’s why successful companies like Salesforce, Zappos, Microsoft, and Disney (to name a few) have invested in their leadership culture consciously.

So, what are the traits of a strong leadership culture?

Strong leadership cultures make positive commitments to the employee experience in three (3) core areas:

1) Values, which affect how employees feel and are treated

For example:

We commit to engaging and connecting with employees in x ways

We commit to creating inclusive workspaces and respecting diverse ideas

2) Development, which affects how employees learn

For example:

We commit to supporting personal and professional development, regardless of job title

We commit to giving everyone access to 1:1 leadership coaching

3) Productivity, which affects how employees contribute

For example:

We commit to driving positive change in X ways

We commit to enabling cross-team learning and collaboration

As keepers of the culture, individuals are encouraged to rally around these commitments, and leaders are held accountable.

Rewiring your organization to embrace these principles won’t happen overnight—and that’s okay—but you can and should start now.

Here are five (5) steps you can take now to create a strong leadership culture:

  1. Map out the values that represent your leadership organization. In other words, what does being a great leader look like?
  2. Create a leadership code of conduct and share it with the organization. In your code, you must spell out how your business and employees will carry out their commitment to each of the values you mapped out.
  3. Identify individuals who embody your leadership values and make a big deal of recognizing their behavior. (Remember, leaders, do NOT need to be managers.)
  4. Seek regular feedback from employees, customers, and even investors about how you’re delivering against your leadership code. (Do they experience you actually living the values you set forth?)
  5. Review your values and how you deliver against them regularly<–This is as important as your financial metrics. Remember, leadership directly impacts every aspect of your business’ success.

Your leadership culture not only reflects what lies beneath the surface of your organization but also influences the experiences of those outside it. Intentionally architect a leadership culture that makes great leadership possible (and rewarding) for all, and you’ll soon find it’s a success multiplier. On this journey, expert guidance and an outside perspective can be a game-changer. If you have any questions or want to discuss how to construct your leadership code and framework, I would love to chat about how I can help.



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