There is a famous quote in the book School Culture Rewired by Steve Gruenert and Todd Whitaker: “The culture of any organization is shaped by the worst behavior the leader is willing to tolerate”. If you let that sit with you for a moment, it’s a pretty powerful idea. It’s not the organizational values we aspire to, but the values/behaviors we tolerate that define who we are and how we lead.
The Importance of Leadership in Organizational Values
The quote by Gruenert and Whitaker highlights the importance of leadership in shaping organizational culture. Leaders have a significant impact on the values and behaviors that are tolerated within their organization. It is their responsibility to set the tone for what is acceptable and what is not.
To create a culture that aligns with the organization’s values, leaders must be intentional about actions and decisions. Leaders must be willing to hold themselves and employees accountable for their behavior. They must address any issues that arise promptly and transparently. Leaders must also be willing to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes, and to model the behaviors they want to see.
Creating a Healthy Culture
One key aspect of creating a healthy culture is valuing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB). Organizations that prioritize DEIB create a sense of belonging for their employees, which in turn drives engagement and productivity. To create a culture that values DEIB, leaders must be willing to examine their own biases and behaviors. Leaders need to take action to address systemic inequities within the organization. This may mean implementing programs to support underrepresented groups, providing training and development opportunities, and actively seeking out diverse perspectives when making decisions.
Another important aspect of building a values based culture is focusing on employee well-being. Leaders who prioritize employee well-being create a culture that supports the whole person, not just their work. This may mean promoting work-life balance, providing opportunities for professional development, and supporting employee health and wellness, both by example and policy.
Times of Change
When it comes to culture change, leaders must be willing to adapt and evolve as needed. Change is inevitable, and organizations that are able to navigate change successfully are those that prioritize their culture and invest in their employees. This may mean restructuring the organization, implementing new technologies or processes, or making difficult decisions about staffing. During times of change, leaders must be transparent about their vision and goals for the organization, and they must be willing to listen to feedback from employees.
If leaders prioritize culture, and speak power to their values, they can create an environment where employees can thrive and the organization can achieve its goals. At Brighter Strategies, we pride ourselves on helping you do that. Contact us today for more information.