October 11th 2019

Creating the Right Culture

Once we figure out what kind of organisation we want to create, we then face the huge challenge of making it actually work. That means changing how people think and how they behave. It means, in other words, changing the culture (that is, what people say and do when they think you are not looking).

John argued that it is not culture change per se that is hard. Organisational cultures are always evolving. The challenge is changing them in the direction you intend. As a leader, you are a role-model, whether you want to be or not. You influence the culture in your part of the organisation through the day-to-day things you say and the decisions you make. If you are like most leaders, usually you make it worse, not better. Many leaders undermine their lofty messages of change by failing to break old habits of how they talk and how they act, what they pay attention to and who they reward.

Professor John Weeks specialises in issues of organisational culture, leadership and change. In his book, Unpopular Culture, and articles and case studies, his focus is how leaders shape the evolution of the cultures of their organisations and how culture shapes what leaders need to do to be effective.