For transformational leadership to fully realize a strategic intent, there needs to be real alignment of strategy and culture.

Did you know that according to Gallup, the main reason people stay in their job is their experience of the culture in which they work?

When a culture fully expresses the corporate strategy, and when executives are able to inspire this across the organization, the results are dramatic.

A 2014 Executive Sentiment Survey conducted by Insigniam reveals that once executives are able to align corporate strategy and corporate culture:

  •  55% noted increased focus and direction for the company
  • 55% noted improved business results
  • 4% see increased collaboration

What steps can you take to provide the kind of transformational leadership that can begin to shift and align an entire culture?

The first step can be uncomfortable. It takes uncovering what really drives the values and actions in a corporate culture. Often what is driving things is a set of unwritten rules for success, rather than the stated strategy.

How can simply revealing these unexamined rules and re-writing them lay the foundation for having your strategy and culture be aligned?

One company (number three in their industry) that could not make headway in moving into the top two took on this approach. This retail company had a corporate commitment and strategy to work as a results-driven meritocracy.

As they began uncovering the unexamined and unwritten rules by which people were actually functioning, a surprising dynamic was revealed. This dynamic was working against alignment and success.

What was revealed in this case was an adversarial relationship between the chief merchandising officer and the chief store officer.

The unwritten, unspoken rule for people to succeed at the company and be promoted was to align with one of these executives. Rather than being assessed on results, people were judged on their loyalty to one of the executives.

As a result, everyone was so busy working to navigate within or around this adversarial dynamic, that embodying the vision and working whole-heartedly for the success of the company became secondary.

Transformational leadership uncovers barriers to alignment and creates a new path forward.

When such unwritten rules are revealed, the real work of creating alignment can begin. In this case, it meant getting the much-needed alignment amongst the executive leaders and finally the teams.

This can begin by:

  • Revealing where alignment is missing and the objective cost of it (this sometimes takes outside support.)
  • Locating common ground and showing benefits of alignment.
  • Creating a vision and /or goal which is ambitious enough

This kind of bold commitment catalyzes the needed teamwork and leads to breakthrough performance and a congruency of strategy and culture.

In a culture change, transformational leadership often begins with this courageous first step—a straight look at unexamined dynamics that interrupt and obstruct alignment.

What unwritten rules do you see at play in your organization?

What leadership can you bring to the situation to promote cultural alignment with your stated corporate vision?

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