Cultural transformation starts with the CEO: can you implement change?

The business world is shifting fast. Companies have no choice but to transform. Progressive CEOs and senior leaders see it, know it and feel it. So, what are the attributes that a leader needs to implement cultural transformation?

  1. Culture (and operating success) starts with the CEO

You need to be a leader who possesses great character, values, thinking patterns, emotional make-up and skills. You must have the capability and guts to think differently and think big. It’s impossible to create and sustain a positive culture that drives operating success without it.

You must counter-balance this with a heavy dose of humility. This is what’s needed to work with your senior team to create the company’s compelling future. It’s about the organization you must create, not the organization you want to create.

  1. The vulnerability decision

I firmly believe that most great CEOs can easily cite the one thing that allowed them to “break through” to achieving leadership greatness. It was a singular, purposeful decision they made to be willing to be vulnerable.

When you admit that you are not as “good” as you can be, and have the guts to share this powerful realization with key stakeholders  — board members, peers, employees and the “outside world” — this becomes a breakthrough experience. You can now focus on the two levers that will propel you and your organizations to even greater heights — strengthening your gifts and addressing your leadership deficits. These two levers will never be activated unless you have made the decision to be vulnerable. 

  1. Create your compelling future

It is important to understand that you cannot create your compelling future without creating happiness in others and creating happiness and “centeredness” in yourself. In fact, you will never achieve anything worthwhile in life unless you have also brought abundant value to others — in your personal life and in business.

I have come to realize that each of us can achieve a consistent state of happiness and “centeredness” by first helping others — being courteous, showing compassion and being altruistic.

  1. Transform mindsets, transform behavior, transform results

The most effective way for your employees to change what they are capable of achieving is helping them change their frame of reference. In doing so, you help them learn to succeed.

The more successes you can help them create, the more chances they will have to interpret these wins as permanent, pervasive and personal. The key to successfully internalizing these crucial connections lies in how often and effectively you lead them to create positively charged references.

  1. Before you begin, you need to measure

Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in medicine, but it’s also malpractice in the world of leadership development and culture transformation. You must have a passionate and diligent focus on measuring everything, most importantly you must measure the strength and vibrancy of your current culture, which has a big impact on your organization’s overall readiness to transform (which also must be measured).

 Culture and operating success start in the C-suite. You can’t fake a company culture if you don’t live by that code and the core values of your organization.  Take a good look at yourself. Are you a leader who can implement change?

John Mattone is an authority on leadership, talent, and culture.  An executive coach, he advises Fortune 1000 senior leaders on how to create cultures that drive superior operating results.  He is the author of seven books including CULTURAL TRANSFORMATIONS, Talent Leadership, and Intelligent Leadership.  Mattone is the creator of numerous business assessments, including the Mattone Leadership Enneagram Inventory. For more information, visit