Companies invest a lot of time and money creating Vision and Mission statements and defining core values.  Sometimes this has a positive impact, but sadly, more often than not, it doesn’t.

It’s not that these things aren’t important, they are often just not approached in the right way and this is generally because of a misconception of what creates and drives the “Culture” of an organisation, or, in plain speak, “How we do things around here.”

A really clear vision of what the Organisation intends to achieve is a pre-requisite for creating a shared purpose, which in turn helps people feel connected to, and proud of, their organisation.  A clear mission statement gives people the confidence that everyone knows where the Company is now and that there is a carefully mapped out path towards achieving that vision.


What really generates “Culture”?

These things provide the right canvas for a great culture, but they’re not the whole picture.  They influence how people want to and intend to behave, but what actually governs how they do act is the behaviours of those around them and in particular the behaviours of the leaders of the business.


Words influence intention.  Actions influence behaviours.


Put another way, the Culture of the organisation is nothing other than the sum total of the behaviours of the leaders.

So if you want to positively influence the Culture of the organisation and, whilst we are at it, the engagement of the staff then yes, create a clear Vision and Mission, but pay more attention to what your Leadership Team and Senior Managers actually do.  Don’t rely on your words alone and in particular the “Values” you create to influence people’s actual behaviours.


Leadership Behaviours

What does this mean in practice?  Look at how how effectively the Exec’ and Senior Teams function together.  Is there honest, frank, robust and open debate? Do people respect and support each other?  Do they look to find the best outcomes or do they try and win the argument and protect their ego?  Do they think primarily for the good of the organisation or do they keep their specialist/departmental hat on at all times?

Do they clearly enjoy Board/Team meetings and do they all communicate the same things afterwards?  Or do they roll their eyes to their teams and say, “It was out of my hands”?

Further do your Leaders (through out the organisation) practice what you preach? Do they talk of diversity, but then hire in their own image?  Do they talk about balance and flexible working, but then then email staff at 11.30pm and 5.00am?  Do they talk about a coaching approach and then tell people what to do? Do they talk of entrepreneurialism and creativity and then publically harangue staff if things go wrong?

If you want to build a stronger, more constructive culture then focus on developing leadership behaviours and allow the Values of the organisation to spring up naturally from what staff say and do in response.


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