Corporate culture isn’t something you can easily pin down in words or pictures, but it most certainly exists. Furthermore, it’s always changing regardless of what’s happening at the executive level, because the world is always changing.
You can no more stop cultural change than you can stop the earth from rotating.
Some industries and some companies evolve more rapidly than others, but unless a company has access to an army of clones, they simply cannot avoid cultural change. The question is, can the company make a difference in how cultural change occurs, and what the results of it are? The answer is a definitive yes!
In some cases, however, orchestrating positive cultural change requires development of certain leadership skills among top executives, and executive coaching can be the key to empowering leaders to help bring about the type of positive cultural change they envision.
“Top-Down” and “Bottom-Up” Changes Always Affect Each Other
Cultural change from the top down will cause changes among the frontline workers, and ultimately, changes among frontline workers cause changes in leaders – whether that ends up being leaders who change how they lead, or whether that ends up being leaders who are replaced with new leaders.
When top leadership tries to “force” cultural change, they’ll definitely get it. But if they go about it wrong, they won’t get the changes they want. Top-down cultural change that is forced may result in temporary adaptation by the rank and file employee base, but temporary improvements may be short-lived. Tone deaf leadership eventually creates frontline employees who either “phone it in,” doing no more than what they have to do to keep their paycheck, or they seek better corporate culture elsewhere.
Transparency Encourages Growth while Opacity Stunts Growth
If you construct a greenhouse for starting plants for a garden, it needs to be transparent, so sunlight can reach the plants and they can grow. An opaque “greenhouse” will only produce struggling seedlings without the precise type of artificial light.
Likewise, when executive leadership demonstrates transparency about what they’re doing and why they’re doing it, they’re far more likely to be received positively than if leadership decisions go on behind closed doors, cut off from the people they are supposed to be leading.
Executive coaches often find themselves working with clients who need to demonstrate more transparency and trust in order to lead better. It doesn’t mean giving in wholesale to every demand from team members, but it does mean keeping people informed of decisions and of the reasoning behind those decisions.
Leadership must demonstrate their humanity and their communication skills with their teams.
How Executive Coaching Can Promote Positive Corporate Culture Change
Executive coaching is designed to shape better, more effective leaders. What that means specifically varies from organization to organization and from one leader to another within an organization. And after all, isn’t the ultimate goal of better leadership better organizational performance? The executive coach who does what they were hired to do always takes the time to gain a 360-degree view of the client, and to learn what the client’s major concerns are before mapping out an executive coaching strategy.
Executives who have difficulty really listening to others can work with an executive coach to learn to be more open to the input of others. And executives who are so attached to the input of others that it renders them indecisive can also benefit from executive coaching.
When there is a major disconnect between top leadership and the people who operate the company on a day-to-day basis, problems follow. Sometimes those problems can be catastrophic. Executive leadership coaching is designed to help leaders be more effective, and that includes learning to face what is happening on a cultural level as it is, rather than as they imagine it. In other words, part of the executive coaching process involves facing the truth – even if that truth is unpleasant.
Corporate culture is real, and it is alive and dynamic, regardless of top management’s view of it. Leaders who are willing to listen, learn, and shape corporate culture in positive ways enjoy the benefits of better productivity and more loyal employees, while leaders who are steadfast in refusing to acknowledge or embrace change will eventually see bottom line numbers deteriorate and have a harder time finding and retaining the best talent.
In my long experience as an executive coach, I have learned first-hand how closely intertwined leadership and corporate culture are. If you are experiencing cultural change in your organization and are interested in my corporate culture services or my leadership coaching, I hope you will get in touch today. You have more power than you may realize for transforming your organization for the better.