You’ve got a strong company culture. Your employee turnover is low, productivity is high, and the company functions well. Plus, everyone seems happy. Projects are turned in on time, clients are over the moon, and there’s even time for a game of ping pong at lunch.
These are the things company culture dreams are made of, and you’ve got it—but only for as long as your leadership team stays vigilant at reinforcing your company culture and values.
If you want to make sure your team members still want to have company picnics instead of company hunger games, you have to make sure your leadership development strategy is strong.
So let’s look at the main reasons why a great company culture won’t stop leadership issues and how you can protect your company from going down that liability rabbit hole.
Hiring External Leadership
Hiring internally for leadership positions isn’t always the right fit for a company. Sometimes you need to bring in someone from the outside with fresh ideas, a clear perspective, and the ability to move the company into scale mode. All of that is fine and dandy. But if that person is not the kind of leader that fits with your company culture, it can be a shock to your team and have unexpected consequences.
You have to contend with internal managers and team members who were up for promotion being upset at being passed over. This can lead to increased turnover. It can also cause some dissent among the rest of your team who may be loyal to the person who did not receive a promotion. This can absolutely impact team morale and productivity.
The other important consideration is that the new leader may not be a natural fit in your company culture. This is more easily dealt with than the first issue.
Creating a leadership development program that is specific to onboarding new leaders and indoctrinating them into the company culture will help you preserve the integrity of the culture at large. Within the onboarding program, it’s vital that they understand what they have the power to change and what they’re not to touch.
For example, if your new hire values productivity over work-life balance and institutes mandatory overtime without consulting the rest of the leadership team, your happy employees might become overworked and undervalued, leading to serious issues.
It’s vital for your new leader to understand where the boundaries are and develop a process of change that provides the proper checks and balances to keep the company culture intact.
Hires Not Understanding Leadership and the Expectations of the Role
Promoting from within can have its own unforeseen repercussions. Often, people ascending into leadership will associate the position with power. Even for team members who previously showed no signs of desiring power can be called into power trips like a siren calling sailors into the sea. This is why it’s important to create a leadership development program that instills what leadership is intended to be within your company’s leaders and how they’re expected to conduct themselves.
Probationary periods are great for this, especially if your newly promoted leader hasn’t been in a leadership position previously. Being a leader requires a different way of thinking and processing information than other positions. You have to be able to see all of the pieces to a project, all of the team members working on the project, and sort out what systems and processes will support your team members in being more effective with their work.
The instinct from the past century of leadership is to drive your people to work harder. In today’s market, that’s no longer conducive to increased productivity, work quality, and employee fulfillment.
Even if new additions to your leadership team are not power hungry and do not have ulterior motives, simply not having these skills is enough to turn a great company culture into an ineffective one.
One of the most important skills in business today is the ability to adapt. Things change fast. A l eader that doesn’t know how to adapt will doom their team to failure.
Remember Blockbuster? It’s well known that the retail giant’s CEO, John Antioco, laughed the Netflix founder out of the room when proposing a partnership for the new wave of movie rental growth. The lesser known story is when that same Blockbuster CEO realized that Blockbuster needed to shift, he proposed a plan to compete with rising stars, Netflix and Redbox, that included doing away with late fees and setting up the Blockbuster Online platform, which would cost Blockbuster a total of $400 million, eating into the company’s previous profitability.
When investor Carl Icahn decided that the plan would not serve Blockbuster’s growth, an agreement was reached for Antioco to leave the company. Antioco’s plan for Blockbuster was upended by his replacement to focus on the store-based model, and within three years of his departure, Blockbuster announced bankruptcy.
If Antioco would have remained CEO of Blockbuster and his plan for online growth been followed, would Blockbuster still be in business? It’s anyone’s guess. But what we do know is that the inflexibility of Blockbuster’s leadership and their desire to put temporary profits over long term vision cost the company everything.
Trust and Strategy
This is what you don’t want in your company. You need people in leadership who can see the longer play. They have the vision for where the market is headed, they can see where things are no longer working in the industry, and they can create strategies that will promote real growth and sustained success.
Developing this kind of vision early in your employees is one component to maintaining a strong company culture, especially when it comes to your leadership. Creating a team that knows how to see the long term vision and understand their part within it will strengthen your team and make your leaders people your employees are more likely to trust.
How Do You Handle Company Culture and Leadership?
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