As employees interact with each other and their leaders, they shape the culture surrounding them. Culture is a set of structures, routines, and norms that constrain and guide people’s behaviour.
When you bring culture down to the organisational and the company’s team levels, you can see how culture is made, changed, and ultimately manipulated.
Meanwhile, you can see how culture stabilises, gives, and constrains meaning and structure to the group members. This is all possible when those at the top start displaying multiple traits of empowering leadership.
You can be a leader now when you can step outside of your own culture and start transformative processes, which are more adaptable. This ability to see the culture’s flaws and change them as needed is the ultimate challenge and essence of being a leader. For that, they must don multiple hats and develop multiple facets of leadership.
Why care about the organisational culture concept?
Culture is an idea, but the forces that come from it in organisational and social situations can be very strong. If we fail to understand how these forces work, we become victims of them and cannot do anything. Most innovative leaders of 2021 talk about developing the right culture, quality, or customer service culture. It suggests that culture is about the values that leaders want to spread in their team.
Here are the multiple facets that a leader can display to take their organisational culture to newer heights.
1. Leaders make the culture
It means that even though an organisation doesn’t always have the “right” culture or that a leader can never make a mistake, their example sets a good example for everyone else to follow. The great visionary leaders’ actions, values, and their teams’ development should be visible signs of the company culture. Such actions then spread through various structures, governance, and policies, affecting how employees work and what they do.
A good example of visionary leaders who have mastered the finer aspects of cultural leadership is Sanjiv Bajaj – the Chairman and Managing Director of Bajaj Finserv. He is known for promoting a very transparent, open-door culture to whet the risk-taking appetite of the employees. By enabling them to ‘think like owners’, he has given the company all the tools to develop an innovation pipeline that is leading to major fintech and financial services disruption in India. This is a textbook example of the facet of being an empowering leader who seeks to transform the company via transforming the people.
2. Leaders should employ a humble inquiry approach
Asking questions can be the most surprising part of the leadership method. The idea of humble inquiry transforms the positive humility that great leaders show toward their team members into an active way to build personal relationships. It leads to better relationships, happier employees, and a higher company turnover rate.
In humble inquiry, the concept is gentle and simple, but it can have a big impact and last long. When working together for a leadership vision, people don’t have to be told what to think or do. Instead, they can be invited into discussions or conversations to make valuable contributions. Some of the benefits of the humble inquiry method are employee engagement, agility, empowerment, innovation, and ambidexterity.
3. Leaders should act both as mentors and friends
Workers can feel isolated when they don’t get a chance to talk to their bosses. In some instances, even if the employees do have something to say, they don’t get the chance to do so.
Humble leadership includes leaders being as supportive and assertive. This is where the mentor and friend facets of leadership come to the fore. Workers are more likely to work together, feel heard, and contribute to a team led by someone with a personal leadership visionof being more than a boss. A leader can help team members navigate challenges with a friendly shoulder to lean on, should the going get tough. This gives the employees the confidence and backing to take risks and break new ground without fear.
4. Leaders as orchestrators
There is a 20/80 proportion of team member participation in conference meetings, and the goal is to move the ratio to 80/20. We have all heard about this before. What about a full one hundred participation? Setting this objective and achieving it takes a lot of thought because some team members aren’t ready.
If you have the empowering leadership of a group, you need to know what each member is good at and how their skills can help the group be better. You can consider yourself an orchestrator who assigns instruments and tasks to your team members as per their capabilities.
As a leader, it’s important to know what each team member can do and use their skills in the best way possible. Take an intelligence test if you don’t know what the team members can do. It will help you figure out their strengths and what you need to work on. You can use this assessment to develop a plan to improve your team members’ skills.
For an organisation to grow and not be on a knife-edge between having or losing great culture, the leaders have to step up and play multiple roles to perfection. They have to be the ones to lead a cultural shift by example, act as people enablers, be the perfect mentor and friend, and take the reins of orchestrating everything from roles and responsibilities to high-level brainstorming sessions. This is what truly brings balance to a workplace. With that being said, most innovative leaders of 2021 can truly start looking forward to where their culture is set up to succeed.
Organisational culture is one of the biggest drivers of a company’s vision and success in today’s world. More often than not, it trickles down from the top leadership down to the employees and all the processes and initiatives at a company. Hence, a leader must be at the vanguard of establishing a culture of risk-taking, transparency, innovation, humility, and excellence in order to get the best out of both the employees and the tools at his/her disposal. For that, a leader must display multiple facets of leadership that help bring to fruition different values of the culture that one wants to embed at an organisation. This article looks at these multiple facets of leadership from close quarters.