Shaping Culture, the leader’s responsibility

Shaping culture. This could be the toughest thing for a leader. The simple reason is, culture is about humans. It is not about machines, not about technology, not about numbers. Culture is about norms, habits and values. It is about complex human interactions. Culture is about people. People are not simple. People are complex. People are emotional. People are changeable.

Shaping culture is so difficult that most leaders prefer analyzing the numbers and processes.  Some just ignore it. Either they want to avoid confronting it or they are just plain naive.  But what will happen if leaders ignore this important part of the organization? The culture will evolve. Unchecked. Untouched. Undisciplined. It can evolve into a stubborn monster. When it does, one must slay the monster before one can reshape it.

Some of the best organizations in the world value culture. That list includes some of the top companies in the world like GE, Google, Ideo and Zappos.  If strong organizations value culture, other organizations must value it as well.

Culture is about values that result in the preferred behavior. The belief is that the preferred behavior results in key habits. These habits would cover words, feelings, mindset, and actions. And key habits will bring about the desired results, which includes the bottom line. How can a leader shape culture? This is not a simple question. Nor does it have one answer. But one answer will suffice for now, a leader must model the culture first.