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The Relationship Between Leadership, Culture and Behavior

Organizational culture is a powerful force that can align employees toward strategic goals, as well as engage both employees and customers to foster meaningful, longterm relationships. Leadership, culture and behavior are inextricably linked: leaders create the culture that drives the behaviors that produce results.

Culture starts with executive leaders setting the tone and example with their energy, language and behavior, but ultimately, it’s the responsibility of every member of the organization – including management and employees – to commit to, and help build, the culture. Ultimately, a stronger culture leads to more effective behaviors that lead to organizational success.

The most successful organizations have elite leadership and an elite culture, meaning they are continually improving leadership, culture and behaviors along a “Performance Pathway.” In short, to get better results, an organization needs better behaviors, which should be driven by a strong culture that’s fostered by the senior leaders.

Leaders’ impact can be positive or negative, and how they react or respond to challenging situations is being watched by their employees. Positive, healthy leadership is resilient, optimistic and realistic. When leaders’ behaviors are consistent and aligned with the culture, the entire team can be motivated to drive toward the desired results. Elite leaders respond with calm and grace in the face of change, embracing new opportunities and encouraging their teams to do the same.

Culture consists of your core beliefs, key behaviors that support those beliefs and the outcomes we produce for others; on an individual level, these three attributes define an individual’s character. It has a snowballing effect, with shifts in either a positive or negative direction difficult to stop once they’ve started. Making changes takes time, and trying to change a culture requires an intentional, disciplined commitment to slow, small and daily efforts and improvements.

When you’re trying to figure out how to drive results, it’s time to talk about the culture of the team and how it is impacting the performance of the team and the results they achieve. Use the questions below to start the conversation about whether the current culture is leading to the right results, or whether and how to change it.

Evolving an organizational culture is a long-term process, and changes can be met with resistance. When leaders are looking to change a culture or specific behaviors, they need to demonstrate better leadership and better behaviors themselves.

Changing the culture to achieve better results needs to be an intentional, disciplined effort. Building a common vocabulary of short terms and phrases aligns the team’s vision and culture and allows everyone to quickly remember desired behaviors and outcomes.

Conversation Starters for Culture Conversations
Fostering a positive organizational culture starts with assessing the current situation and defining the desired culture. Ask yourself:
• How is the culture of the team affecting the performance of the team?
• What does our culture, when properly aligned and executed, look and sound like (including specific examples)?
• How can you align your team to get the results you are seeking?

Culture is critical. Expert FCCS consultants are available to help clients define and evolve organizational cultures, with a focus on cooperatives. Contact Jay Lux, FCCS’s Vice President of Leadership and Organizational Development, at 651.982.4568 or via email. You can also catch Derek Avera at the upcoming FCCS FORUM for Ag Lending.
Hear more from Derek Avera on the FCCS Forward Thinking podcast.

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