By Sean Culey
Part 1 of this article (published in The European Business Review, May/June 2012) set out the case for Culture; it’s impact on financial performance, talent, effectiveness and morale, and why developing the right culture is possibly the most important skill for a leader to develop. Now Sean Culey describes how leaders can develop a culture that supports their aspirations and strategies, creating alignment and integration throughout the organisation.
On Monday 28th May 2012, Dewey & LeBoeuf filed for bankruptcy, creating the largest law firm collapse in US history. The major cause attributed for this collapse was Dewey’s discarding of any focus on values and teamwork in order to transform the firm into a short-term bottom-line focused, profit-maximizing business. William Henderson, a professor at Indiana University who studies law firms commented, “the lack of shared cultural values meant that money became the core value holding the firm together, and money is weak glue.”1
Now take a minute to think about the culture in your organisation: how strong is your glue? Culture reflects the realities of people working together every day, so listen to the conversations, look at the way decisions are made and the way departments cooperate. Does it inspire or frustrate; speed things up or slow things down? Are people bound together by a common cause and shared values? Do they work well together? Are they focused on themselves or the organisation? Leaders know when their Culture isn’t right. But knowing about an issue is one thing; knowing what to do about it and taking action is something else entirely.