What business leaders pay attention to influences culture
One assumes that if you are a business leader that can testify to any sort of business success, you cannot be the sort of person that “switches off” every evening, over weekends or whilst on annual holiday. One assumes that the time you are thinking about and reflecting on your business is not restricted only to business hours. Most successful business leaders will admit to the fact that those long-haul flights, hours on the beach or quiet Sundays pottering in the garden are also inevitably used to reflect on the state, or direction, of their business or areas of responsibility.
The key challenge I have for any of you who can admit to the above, is not whether or not you should be thinking about your business, but rather what is it about your business that is occupying your mind. Next time you catch yourself drifting back to business, which of the following statements best describes your thought:
1. What could we be doing differently to ………..
2. What could we be doing better to………
3. What could we be doing faster to …….
4. Who do we have in our team and how could we be better equipping them…
Let us first consider the first question. Leaders who are drawn towards “Big Picture Thinking” and “Visioning” above all else are likely to carry this thinking into the way they relate to, and manage their teams. In response to this leadership style, cultures will conform to become agile and flexible; aspirant leaders will be drawn towards this culture and in turn will be welcomed into the fold. The downside, if not recognised, is that basic structures and disciplines will be lost and structured thinkers may leave in frustration and so the culture embeds.
To complete the picture, those that are drawn to improving efficiencies are “Down To Earth Thinkers” the “Outcome Focused” leaders who are looking to see deliverables produced, whilst the “People Focused” are looking for ways to build sustainable and successful teams.
Happily, and perhaps hopefully, it is seldom that all leaders can be neatly categorised into just one of the above four categories. There are a myriad of tools that are available to assess the degree to which people demonstrate each of these personality types (as well as their propensity to change). These can be most useful in making leaders aware of the impact, both positive and negative, of their behaviour. This self-awareness is important because it ensures that a balanced culture is fostered through:
1. Adapting and changing where possible;
2. Ensuring that the leadership team, as a whole, has a balanced component of strong personalities across each of the personality styles; and
3. Ensuring that the right dynamics exist within the team so that each of these strengths are heard in sufficient measure.
Culture, more than strategy, impacts business results. What business leaders think about is what they pay attention to. What they pay attention to sends a message throughout the business as what gets rewarded and what doesn’t.