The role of behaviour in the workplace has undergone a significant transformation in line with a distinctly different level of expectation from team members around culture. Previously, leaders would dictate how individuals should behave by instructing them on their expected norms and standards. The recent emergence of organisational leadership though has revolutionised not only our approach to leadership, but also the dynamic business landscape as we know it.
So, why is defining culture so important?
Culture provides leaders with an opportunity to create a shared set of values and beliefs that guide the behaviour of their teams. By aligning behaviour with the organisational culture, leaders can foster a sense of purpose and instil a deep commitment among team members.
Importance of a Defined Culture
When you define your culture, Leaders can provide team members with a framework to align their behaviour against, by clearly communicating the purpose, vision and values of the organisation. This alignment creates a sense of purpose and fosters a “buy-in” effect, where team members willingly commit themselves to the organisation’s direction, goals and values.
This is crucial because when team members feel connected to something larger than their day-to-day tasks, their engagement and commitment levels soar. Embracing organisational culture allows teams to become more than just workers; they become active participants in a shared journey.
Research by Deloitte found that 94% of leaders and team members believed a defined corporate culture is important to overall business success. The same survey also found that 76% of team members believed that their “clearly defined business strategy” helped create a positive culture. (1)
This deeper sense of engagement drives discretionary effort. Team members are willing to give more of themselves, work harder, and strive for higher quality outcomes because they have bought into the culture. Their dedication stems from a belief that their contributions align with the organisation’s purpose and values.
Defining Organisational Culture
Culture can be succinctly described as “the way we do it here.” It encapsulates the unique way an organisation operates and what truly matters to it. Defining the culture involves identifying and articulating the core purpose and values of the organisation.
The purpose provides why we do what we do, whilst the values serve as guiding principles for behaviour, providing a template for how individuals should act within the organisation. By outlining the culture, leaders create a powerful guide that attracts like-minded individuals and enables them to lead and role model the culture effectively.
Leaders play a crucial role in shaping and nurturing the organisational culture. They must not only define the culture but also embody it through their own actions and behaviours. Leading the culture involves consistently demonstrating the purpose and values, aligning decisions and actions with them, and reinforcing them through regular communication and recognition.
We have shared the criteria below which commonly needs to be defined to have a successful organisational culture, and a subsequent high-performing team.
Purpose refers to the fundamental reason why an organisation exists beyond achieving sales and profit. It is the higher calling or overarching objective that gives meaning to the work being done. This can be done by reflecting on the organisational impact, the value it brings to all stakeholders, and the difference it aims to make in the world.
Vision represents the desired future state that an organisation or team aspires to achieve. It is the number one thing we must do to achieve the purpose. It provides a clear picture of what success looks like and serves as a guiding star for decision-making and goal setting. This requires a clear understanding of what will have the biggest impact on achieving the purpose.
Strategic priorities are the key focus areas, the strategic pillars and imperatives that an organisation or team needs to address to achieve its vision and fulfil its purpose. This process requires an understanding of the key pillars based on a balanced scorecard and creating the structure necessary for the strategy.
Organisational foundations encompass the fundamental elements that support the functioning and success of an organisation or team. The foundations are the legacy behaviours that have made the organisation successful over time – things that have been a constant alongside success and cannot be lost.
Values are the guiding principles that shape the behaviour and culture of an organisation or team. They define what is important and serve as a moral compass for the way people behave, make decisions and act. The values need to reflect the expected behaviours needed to build an aligned, supportive and high trust culture.
- Agarwal, Dr.P. (2022) How to create a positive workplace culture, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pragyaagarwaleurope/2018/08/29/how-to-create-a-positive-work-place-culture/?sh=10a07e3d4272 (Accessed: 31 May 2023).