Who is in charge of culture?

Helping your team or company’s culture evolve or change into a validating, consistently high performing and values-aligned work environment is a lot of work.

Culture change or, if you prefer, culture refinement is not something to be taken casually. It must be seen as vital work that needs time, energy and intention to help craft consistent workplace inspiration.

So, who must lead your team or company’s culture shift?

The player or players who are responsible for culture change are those who:

  • Can create or modify the organization’s incentives, policies, and procedures and
  • Have formal authority to guide the team, department, division or company.

In short, the leaders of your team or company are in charge of your team or company’s culture.

Leaders get the credit when they have crafted a safe, inspiring and productive work environment. Leaders also (deservedly) get the blame when they have crafted a tense, fear-driven, “I win, you lose” work environment.

However your team or company’s culture is operating today, it’s “perfect,” exactly as we’d expect it to be.

If leaders want that culture to evolve, they must take action to clarify their desired culture (defining it in behavioral terms), model their desired culture living it in every interaction, and hold everyone on the team or in the company accountable for living it in every interaction.

Here’s the challenge: most leaders have not experienced successful culture change. Even fewer have led a successful culture change.

Most team or company leaders simply don’t know how to proactively manage their organization’s culture.

That’s what my book is designed to do — it educates leaders about a proven path for designing and aligning their desired culture.

The absence of demonstrated skills in managing a team or company’s culture can temp leaders to delegate the responsibility and authority for culture management to someone else in the organization.

Sometimes this temptation is driven by the absence of interest on a leader’s part, so they delegate culture responsibility and authority (!).

Culture responsibility is often delegated to human resources or organization development or a similar function.

Delegation of culture responsibility almost always results in the complete failure of the culture change to gain traction. Why? Because only leaders of a team or company:

  • Can create or modify the organization’s incentives, policies, and procedures, and
  • Have formal authority to guide the team, department, division, or company.

If leaders are serious about culture change, they must accept, even embrace, the responsibility for it. To effectively guide their team or company’s culture refinement, leaders must follow the guidance of proven practitioners (like yours truly) so their desired culture comes to fruition.

Adapted from the award-winning bestseller, The Culture Engine: A Framework for Driving Results, Inspiring Your Employees, and Transforming Your Workplace by S. Chris Edmonds and available through Amazon. Edmonds can be reached at www.drivingresultsthroughculture.com. Edmonds is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies.  He is the author or co-author of seven books, including Leading At A Higher Level with Ken Blanchard.