Achieving Real and Lasting Culture Change in a Business

Unfortunately, too many businesses are based on a simple ‘transactional’ model of development. The owner or leader sees it is as their job to lead, with the employee having the simple task of following. For centuries, society has reinforced this model. Military commanders applied the transactional model; obey my orders and we will win the battle. Many of the great business titans were dictators. ‘It’s my way or the highway’, is a phrase that you may have heard. Indeed, much of business thinking is based on the ‘military model’, with organisational structures and language reflecting the characteristics of armies and battlefields.

Followers/employees look for direction and guidance, and because they are at the top of the hierarchy and therefore have position, they see it as the leader’s responsibility to direct and motivate them. How many employees expect their leaders to be all seeing and all-knowing, which itself places a tremendous strain on them? Under the transactional model there is an exchange of services. If you serve and follow me says the leader, I will provide rewards for you. If that relationship breaks down and the leader is unable to provide the service required, the business falters and people leave. If the follower/employee fails to keep their side of the bargain and provide their services to a high standard, they are sacked.

The question is, does the leader stop there or does it business seek to go further, break the cycle and so achieve real success? Rather than setting up a simple transactional relationship in their business, the far-seeing owner will be looking to provide ‘transformational leadership’. They will be concerned with;

  • Engaging hearts and minds
  • Providing a long-term vision which others can get behind
  • Guiding team members to achieve greater motivation, satisfaction and a sense of achievement in what they do
  • Empowering others to control themselves
  • Coaching and developing their team

The irony is that the most effective military commanders were transformational leaders to a significant extent. Whilst Napoleon gave the orders, he also engaged his soldiers to the point that they willingly followed him to the cold of Russia in 1812 and the carnage of Waterloo in 1815.

The real power of the leader comes from creating an environment of understanding and trust where values and moral purpose are also adhered to and considered. Transformational leaders create powerful learning communities within their businesses which integrate the emotional, spiritual and intellectual values of their team along with the quest for success. Profit simply becomes the result of how well the business does this.

Organisational performance is largely dependent on the beliefs of people and the values which they hold. The leader should be looking to break down the barriers to the team’s total commitment, remove the desire for passivity which may exist on the part of some team members, whilst requiring them to step up and outside of their own comfort zones.

Effective management in any business is of critical importance, however, we should, in the twenty first century, be seeking to move away from the values associated with simple ‘managerialism’. The role of the leader, whether that is the Managing Director or the Departmental Head is to liberate control and align vision to a common purpose and in so doing, build and release capacity. Business is a collaborative exercise and as leaders we must collaborate with team members to create something that everyone buys into. When this happens, the results can be amazing.

If you are looking to achieve a lasting transformational culture change in your business, which empowers your team members to step up and lift heavier loads, then join me at C4Di Hull on 12th June where I will be leading a business forum of like-minded owners designed to explore how transformational change can be achieved in a business.

Click on the link below to find out more.

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