July 28, 2014
Organizational Culture and Leadership
Behind every successful leader is a vibrant culture that engages and energizes employees. In almost every case, that culture has been defined, shaped and personified by the leader. Shaping a culture is a formidable task, since many of the valuable qualities a leader might have are never taught in a classroom. Culture is defined as "the set of key values, assumptions, understandings, and norms that is shared by members of an organization and taught to new members as correct." In a culture-driven company emotional maturity, authenticity, and a strong character are all necessary for a leader to be effective. All of these things can be learned through lessons and life experience. There are three levels that culture consist of; artifacts, expressed values, and underlying assumptions. Leaders must understand these levels if they are to institutionalize the values that led to the success that the company is involved in. Cultures serve two important functions in an organization. It integrates members so that they know how to relate to one another and it helps the organization adapt to the external environment. Not only do leadership and culture coexist inside an organization, but it also exist through connections and new marketplaces as more and more organizations expand their sales around the globe; not only to the other side of the United States, but also to the other side of the world through global teams. Leaders need to be conscience of culture if the are to lead. Otherwise they will only manage a group of people rather than lead them. Organizational culture and leadership are very important to each other. Leaders need a strong culture to produce a well knit team; culture allows a team to develop internal integration, external adaptation, and cultural leadership.
Organizational culture is the behavior of humans within an organization and the meaning that people attach to those behaviors. Organizational culture is defined by all of the life experiences, strengths, weaknesses, education, upbringing, and so forth of the employees. While executive leaders play a large role in defining organizational culture by their actions and leadership, all employees contribute to the organizational culture. Organizational culture throughout the past several years has began to become a field of its own. According to Edgar Schien, author of Organizational Culture and Leadership, organizational culture has "drawn from themes such as anthropology, sociology, social physiology, and cognitive physiology". This culture is a pattern of thoughts and actions that helped an organization solve problem and therefore the organization believes that is it correct enough to teach the new members these patterns of thoughts and actions. There are three values of organizational culture; artifacts, expressed values, and underlying assumptions. Artifacts include anything that can be readily observed, such as technology, office layout, or slogans. Expressed values are deeper and are not easily seen. This may be observable patterns. Lastly, Underlying assumptions are even deeper then expressed values. They are "values and shared understands that are held by an organization" (Daft). These examples of culture on all three levels are important because they help integrate members so they can relate to one another and they help the organization adapt to the environment outside of their own walls.
Internal integration is a very important quality that a business or organization should posses to be successful. Internal integration assist members, old and new, to develop an identity that is collective and know how to work together effectively. In today's' world many "organizations are putting emphasis on developing strong culture that encourages teamwork, collaboration, and mutual trust" (Daft). A major problem that all groups can run into that will cause them to fail is internal integration. If a group fails to adapt and their internal integration permits daily functioning, there will be failure. Cultural values that promote open communication, cooperation, and equality can help the integration of the organization more successful. Culture is way guides day-to-day working relationships and it helps figure out how people can communicate with one another in an organization. It helps people understand what is acceptable and what is not acceptable when it come to behaviour. Culture can "imprint a set of unwritten rules inside employees' minds" (Daft). These unwritten rules can help determine employees' behaviors which, in turn, affects organizational performance. Even if internal integration is strong, external adaptation is essential for a business to be one hundred percent effective.
External adaptation is when the organization meets goals and deals with outsiders. The right cultural values help the organization respond quickly to consumer needs or any moves that a competitor may or may not make. The culture of a company should embody the values and assumptions needed by the organization to succeed. For example; if an economy requires a business to by resourceful and flexible, the companies culture should embody those values that support resourcefulness and collaboration across departments. the culture can encourage an employees commitment to the organization which begins to build culture strength inside an organization. Culture strength is the degree of agreement among the employees about the importance of values the organization has. A major problem that a lot of leaders fail to see is the culture gap that exist in their organizations.
If leaders make sure that their organizational culture is strong, it will lead to a strong internal and external workforce that will lead the business to success in no time. However, if a business experiences a culture gap without a leader realizing it, then the culture of a business is not in alignment with the needs of the environment, external and internal. A leader must fix a culture gap if they wish to have their organization strong and successful. An organization only exist because of the people who are a part of it and only if those people share the same values and assumptions as well as shape the culture of the organization. A cultural leader is the basis of this
A cultural leader defines and uses signal and symbols to influence corporate culture. They can do this in two areas;
"1. The cultural leader articulates a vision for the organizational culture that employees can believe in. This means the leader defines and communicates central values that employees believe in and will rally around. Values are tied to a clear and compelling mission, or core purpose.
2. The cultural leader heeds the day-to-day activities that reinforce the cultural vision. The leader makes sure that work procedures and reward systems match and reinforce the values. Actions speak louder than words, so cultural leaders 'walk their talk'" (Daft)
To have an impact in this new environment, a leader must be closely aligned with the culture he or she hopes to lead. That culture might be particular to one corporation, or it could be much broader, reflecting the language and nationality, or ages and interests, of employees. If a leader would like certain values to guide an organization, they will have to model them every day in and out of the office. The best leaders are those whose own culture is inseparable from the culture of the company. For a company to be successful there needs to be a feedback loop that a leader and a subordinate can communicate through. In the beginning, when a leader is first put into power, the culture of the company is unknown. However, a leader is required to shape the culture either from scratch or take the culture that was given to them and redesign it the way they believe will help the organization grow culturally. Employees learn what is valued most in a company by watching the everyday attitudes and behaviors of a leader. General Norman Schwarzkopf once said, “Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.” This quote stresses how much a leader needs a good character. Without a leader with good character, the organization will not have good culture. Not only does leadership affect organizational culture, but organizational culture affects leadership as well. "Leadership helps shape culture. Culture in turn shapes leadership. They both drive performance " (HSGCC).
Event though organizational culture and leadership may not seem to have anything to do with each other, leadership has a lot to do with the culture of a business. Organizational culture is how people in an organization behave and how those people interpret behavior and the meaning of those behaviors. It is very important to have a strong cultural climate in an organization because culture in an organization leads to internal integration and external adaptation. Internal integration is when all the members of a company get along and how they react with each other as well as how the welcome new members into the company. external adaptation is how well a company reacts the to changing environment outside of the business walls. Both of these factors leads to a well knit, and loyal team as well as a cultural environment. A cultural leader is necessary when it comes to closing cultural gaps and shaping the environment to the cultural level that is wishes to be at. A cultural leader is someone who can be watched at all times and their values and ideals never changes. A cultural leader is the strongest most successful leader because all the employees can watch him or her and follow in their footsteps. Leadership, however, does not just simply affect organizational culture. Cultures turns and affects leadership and is a circle that never ends.